The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the February 23, 2019 poll, Atiku Abubakar, has said Nigeria must address electoral lapses that cause rigging of election in the country, “especially those lapses that led to the alleged rigging of the 2019 general elections.” Atiku, a former Vice President in a statement on Monday by his Media Office, said one way of addressing the lapses was to implement the salient recommendations of the National Electoral Reform Committee (NERC) headed by former Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Mohammed Lawal Uwais.
The former Vice President said one of such recommendations, which would enhance the independence of the supposedly Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), was the recommendation that the power to appoint the chairman and board of the INEC be taken away from the President and given to the Judiciary. He said Nigeria today faces a lot of challenges, chief of which are security and economic challenges, adding that to effectively tackle these, a government must have an honest and indisputable mandate. “Obviously, the 2019 elections were several steps down from the 2015 elections in terms of credibility, and as a democrat, I am challenging that election in the right arena, the courts. “However, leadership does not just entail getting justice for the past. A real leader knows that in terms of justice, prevention is better than cure. “I have been pondering on the question, how can Nigeria have credible elections? Our electoral system needs not just to be brought up to date, by the acceptance of the amendments to the Electoral Act passed by the eight National Assembly, we also need to be up to tomorrow, by taking steps today to ensure that the lapses that made it possible for the 2019 elections to be manipulated or rigged are addressed. “Of all three arms of government, the Judiciary is the least affected by elections, meaning that it has the highest objectivity in matters relating to the INEC. “It is therefore in the best position of the three arms to appoint a chairman and board members for the electoral body that are impartial, competent and patriotic. “This recommendation may seem like a small change, but my experience in life has taught me never to underestimate the big difference small changes can make. “Where you have an administration whose mandate is considered tainted, such a government will lack sufficient moral authority to tackle the myriad of problems this great nation currently faces. “I conclude by saying that I do not believe in blaming. Leadership must be solution-oriented, not blame-focused. This is why I proffer this patriotic advice. Nigeria must be great again and all hands must be on deck to achieve that,” Atiku said.