… says position of INEC chairman, National Commissioners should be advertised, removed from President
A former presidential aspirant of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2023 election, Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim on Monday warned that the Electoral Act should be further touched to avoid war in the 2027 election.
While recommending that the position of the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and National Commissioners should be advertised and not appointed by the President, he said that the Electoral Act should put onus of proof of the conduct of credible election on INEC and not on the petition.
Olawepo-Hashim, a Global Oil Executive and presidential candidate of the Trust Party in the 2019 election stated these during an interview with journalists in Abuja.
According to him, during the military regimes, he and other activists fought that for a truly independent INEC, the positions should be advertised to indicate who should apply, while the National Judicial Service Commission (NJSC) should be the collation agency, independent of the executive.
He said the military rejected the recommendation but accepted others.
Olawepo-Hashim said, “In 1999, we won the election on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). But who were those that asked for an independent electoral commission? We are not behaving like people who were sure they were going to get power, because we were believers in democracy.
“So, Nigerians need believers in democracy across parties to survive, not APC and PDP. This is beyond APC, PDP. If we don’t ‘sort out’ the electoral system right now, and not six months to election, or one year, the 2027 election is going to be war. Nobody will be going to court. So, we don’t want that now. Nigeria needs statesmen not politicians. We don’t need politicians in the diverse seats of the reform of our state institutions. We need statesmen to speak up.
“The issue of electoral reform is not the business for the opposition. It is the business for everyone who loves Nigeria because if we don’t reform the process, and election can’t be delivered credibly, 2027 will be war.
“We fought for democracy, it was not about people bringing in letter through foreign Embassies in exile. This is what was taking place in Abuja. So now, we have to rescue the democratic process because it is becoming needless. Why are we having coup d’etat all over Africa? Because people did not see any content in what we call democracy.
“The position of INEC chairman and National Commissioners should be advertised for all Nigerian who are competent to run free and fair election and the Judicial Service Commission should make the conduct of the interview and recommendations shortlisted and send to the Senate for approval.
“The INEC composition should be independent of the President and Executive. And if you don’t do it you will never have credible elections in Nigeria.
The Electoral Act should be done in such a manner that the onus of proof of a credible election should be on INEC not on the petition because INEC is the one that recruits the staff, does the logistics, has all the custody of the evidence for the election.
“You cannot ask a man who is not in the possession of the electoral material to come and prove that the election was done well or not done well. Otherwise, you are only going to be bothering the judiciary unnecessarily.
“I know that people have their expectation in the judiciary but judges adjudicate based on law and evidence and the truth of the matter is that the Electoral Act has skewed the balance in favour of the winner of the election and the man who organized the election.”