As Nigeria slides into the worst recession ever, and the 2019 transition just about two and half years away, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu has warned there might be no elections considering INEC’s level of preparations.
The former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission said this while he was addressing a towh hall meeting Wednesday during the presentation of the post=election findings carried out by the ActionAid Nigeria.
“Today, the executive has gone into lax mode; judiciary has become lawless; National Assembly is lacking in credibility; INEC is troubled; politicians have gone unruly. Government says it has no money to run the economy. Every element that made 2015 is currently missing,” he said.
Odinkalu admitted that INEC recorded some gains in 2015 elections, but he feared the next elections might fare differently, bringing along crisis and deaths.
According to him, there is no reason why the executive should allow the number of vacancies in INEC to be as high as 28.
“The Executive is carrying on as if this normal. Citizens are carrying on like: ‘We will tweet it on social media’. We should do more than that, because our country is at stake. The way we are carrying on, 2015 is history; 2019 may not happen, if we don’t reset. We‘ve got to take our country very seriously. There will be no elections in 2019.
“I’m sorry to sound alarmist. But, continuing the way we are going, we will not be able to have elections in 2019. If it happens, there would be too many broken heads and dead people.”
He bemoaned the state of the judiciary, especially the corruption in the profession, particularly on recent rulings on electoral cases in the
“The judiciary has gone rogue and destroyed everything that was supposed to guarantee fairness in the 2015 elections. Judges are speaking from too many sides of their mouth. There are no underlying principles.
He cited instances when judges come out with decisions that are manifestly bought, and the entire third arm of the government is saying nothing.
“The jurisprudence on the PVC is irresponsible. When a country appropriates for a measure, and has it backed by law and voted for by the citizens, the judiciary cannot outlaw it the way the judiciary dealt with the PVC (permanent voters card). The judiciary reacted to the PVC in a way that effectively licensed electoral violence,” he said.
The executive director, Policy & Legal Advocacy Center, Clement Nwankwo, who also made his presentation, agreed with Odinkalu. He too was worried about the existing vacancies in INEC.
“It is totally unacceptable that we we do not have a full complement of members of the electoral commission less than two and a half years to a national election. If those who hold the reins of leadership in the country today do not act as urgently as in emergency situation, we will lose this democracy,” he said.
He emphasized the need to re-engineer the electoral process to get citizens to be active participants in electoral process in 2019.
Country Director, ActionAid Nigeria, Ojobo Atuluku, said the organisation’s concern about citizens’ participation in the electoral process informed the decision to undertake the project on “Strengthening Citizens Engagement in Electoral Process, to deepen its work..
She said the project allowed ActionAid to work with 180 communities across 10 states, to mobilise citizens to understand and engage the electoral system.