Nigeria: Electoral reform raises skepticism

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Top Nigerian governor has vowed to oppose the appointment of a new electoral commission boss by Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan, despite a strong support for electoral reform of the Nigerian electoral process.

President Jonathan would appoint a new boss for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), as former INEC boss, Maurice Iwu, was sacked recently on the grounds of corruption.

While Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole, a former labor leader agrees that electoral reform was a priority to promote good governance, he does not believe that President Jonahan should have the power to appoint a new chairman for electoral commission.

“The president should not have the power to appoint INEC chairman… No one should be allowed to nominate an umpire in the game in which he is a participant,” Mr. Oshiomhole said a public lecture.

But while he [Mr. Oshiomhole] reiterated that electoral reform in Nigeria would check electoral malpractices in the country, notorious for electoral violence and fraud, and keep the country from becoming a failed state, he doubts the reasoning in allowing President Jonathan who may run in next year elections to appoint the INEC boss.

“If President Jonathan must exercise the power to appoint INEC chief, he must not appoint a known card-carrying member of a political party. If he does, he must not expect us to believe him.”

However, it remains unclear whether President Jonathan would run for office in the coming elections.

Mr. Oshiomhole, a former labor leader and a member of the opposition Action Congress party said “The first priority for Nigeria as at today is electoral reform… The greatest challenge of Nigeria is governance. There is a crisis of governance in our country. If we can’t deal with electoral reform, we can’t deal with any other thing.”

The opposition to President Jonathan’s selection of a new INEC boss comes after media reports claimed that a powerful cabinet minister, who is a member of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, was being considered for the INEC job.

The electoral reform bill is before the parliament because President Jonathan under pressure from politicians, civil society groups, and the international community has pushed for electoral reform ahead of next year’s poll.

Mr. Oshiomhole said that electoral reform was a priority to promote good governance but expressed opposition to President Goodluck Jonathan appointing a new boss for the electoral commission.

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