The immediate past Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega, yesterday affirmed that his successor, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, is equal to the task.
Jega also hailed President Muhammadu Buhari for picking Yakubu, whose appointment as the INEC chairman was confirmed yesterday by the Senate.
He was delivering the first University of Abuja Public Lecture Series with the theme: “Electoral Reforms in Nigeria: Challenges and Prospects”.
The former INEC boss adjudged the 2007 elections as manifestly the worst in the nation’s history just as he expressed disappointment in some politicians because of their mindset to electoral process.
He said: “From my experience, I quite often say that Nigeria has a special breed of politicians (nee: ‘Militicians’). They generally tend to believe that political power through elections has to be ‘captured’ and this has to be done by hook or by crook; and by any means necessary! To them, winning election is, literally, ‘a do-or-die’ affair”.
Jega, who is now the Vice Chancellor of the Plateau State University, Jos, Kano, said the sad development remained a formidable challenge for future electoral reforms.
He said: “As long as politicians continue to have this unwholesome mindset, efforts at electoral reform and deepening democracy would remain constrained.
“INEC faced perhaps its greatest challenge in containing the predisposition and reckless mindset of Nigerian politicians. Any wonder then, that our political arena increasingly resembled a bloody battlefield, with maiming, killing, burning, and unimaginable destruction of lives and property”.
He added that navigating the “minefield” of “do-or-die” politicians as an impartial electoral umpire required nerves of steel.
“Compliance with the laws and insisting on same and respect for due process, as well as being non-partisan and transparent, helped the commission in navigating this ‘minefield’”, Jega said.
The former INEC chairman advised government to ensure that security plays a wise role in future elections and urged the youths to be interested in electoral reforms for a better country.
He also advised government to sustain the ongoing reforms in the electoral process and ensure that the players and other stakeholders abide by the rule at all time.