Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, yesterday reacted to calls for a two-party system in Nigeria, stating that it is a process that will evolve over time and not by legislative act.
Jega’s comment comes on the heels of a remark credited to President Goodluck Jonathan last week where he advocated a two-party system to help stabilize the polity.
According to Jega, history had shown that in countries where there are only two parties, the system evolved over time.
“As a professor of comparative studies, a two-party system usually evolves” he said, adding “A study of the countries with a two-party system shows that it usually evolves. It is not what can be legislated upon.
“The United States of America is one of the countries with a two-party system. It was not legislated upon; but evolved gradually through the system.”
The INEC chairman also threatened to sanction groups that violate the Electoral Act as it concerns early campaigns.
“Politicians and political parties cannot commit electoral offences with impunity and go scot-free without sanctions. The guidelines say don’t commence early campaigns until the guidelines are released. We have the guidelines on what the constitution and the Electoral Act says. Whenever we have such violations, we shall investigate and those found guilty shall face necessary action,” he added.
Jega also debunked allegations that electoral offenders were not being prosecuted, adding that about 200 persons including staff members of the commission, members of the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) and others have been prosecuted for various election malpractices.
Although he admitted the number was small, he attributed it to the commission’s lack of logistics which makes it difficult to effectively prosecute offenders, hence the need for another agency to help in that regard.
Consequently, he stated that the commission had begun talks with the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) for the prosecution of electoral offenders, but said such a move would only be effective when another agency handles the prosecution.