Prof. Attahiru Jega, former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has said that the commission needs to be unbundled by the national assembly to be more effective.
Jega who said this at a Citizens Town Hall on Electoral Reform organised by Yiaga Africa, European Union (EU) in collaboration with the National Assembly joint committees on electoral matters on Tuesday, November 28, added that the issue of cross carpeting by politicians must be proscribed if Nigeria’s electoral process must be improved.
He said; “From 2011 to 2022, a lot of efforts have been made to reform the electoral process. A few months after a new government has been sworn in, electoral reforms have started. The 2022 electoral reforms are the best in recent times but there is room for improvement.
“We must look at the voting rights and inclusion, political parties, primaries and litigation, security and public enlightenment which are necessary to electoral integrity.
“If we want to improve politics and deepen democracy, we must prevent cross-carpeting by politicians from one party to another. The reason why our lawmakers don’t want to do that is because they win elections in another party and join the ruling party later.
“The law is very clear. If you move, unless there is a crisis, a by-election should be conducted. If a politician crosses the carpet as a matter of principle, he should vacate his or her speech.
“If you cross the carpet, you should be able to vacate the seat. I strongly support the recommendation that the appointment of the INEC chairman and the Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) should be reviewed.
“Because when the president nominates, there is no serious screening. The legal provisions of appointing someone that is non partisan should be considered.
“INEC should be unbundled. We also need to review how people stand to contest a presidential election. Some people form political parties just to run for the office of the president. A political party should not field a presidential candidate unless they meet a certain threshold.”