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Yar'adua's Electoral Reform is a fraud

March 16, 2009

Nigerians were not taken by surprise when the Federal Minister of Information and National Orientation, Professor Dora Akunyili announced the government position on the report of the three man committee that studied the white paper on the Uwais Electoral Reform Committee it submitted to President Umaru Musa Yar’adua at the Presidential Villa last year. Nigerian were not surprised not because of the doctoring of the Uwais report but because of the steps taken to finally sensor the report by delaying the acceptance of the report through setting up of a white paper committee and later the 3-man review committee that lasted weeks during which the anxiety of Nigerians were raised.

There is therefore no gainsaying in the fact that all hands were put on deck by the powers that be in the Yar’adua think-tank to doctor the Uwais report to suit their political agenda as the 2001 general elections draw nearer. In fact the 3-man review committee was specifically put in place to finally conclude the deal. It is therefore not an over-exaggeration to say that almost all Nigerians have condemned the doctoring of the Uwais report by amending or expunging vital areas of the reform issues like the appointment of INEC Chairman and commissioners among others. Many politicians and non politicians alike have condemned Yar’adua’s style in constituting the Uwais panel and refusing to accept all of its recommendations in the interest of the country’s electoral process and Nigerians alike. They are of the view that the government’s position has further exposed Yar’adua’s insincerity in putting in place a viable, credible, free and fair electoral process that will stand the test of time.

Since the rape of the peoples rights to vote candidates of their choice due to massive rigging by PDP and its agents in INEC and the security forces in the 2007 general elections, Nigerians have lost hope in the capacity of the Yar’adua led government to reform a process that he and his party are today the greatest beneficiaries. Shortly after assuming office on May 29, 2007, President Yar’adua himself admitted that the elections were flawed and promised Nigerians that he was all out to reform the electoral process so that such things will never happen again. What Nigerians got now as a result is a complete opposite of the Presidential promise.

Whether or not Yar’adua and the PDP like it, the murdering of the Uwais committee report will go along way in further casting aspersions on the person and office of Yar’adua and his party. Accepting the recommendation of Uwais in the appointment of INEC Chairman and commissioners would have been an opportunity to give INEC independence and be free from intimidation and interference of the Presidency. As it is now, INEC is more porous now than it was before. Yar’adua and PDP will come 2011 have a landslide victory in all elections across the country.

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The view of most Nigerians is that the composition of the NJC and the conduct of the judiciary so far in the protection of the integrity of our democracy are enough justification for their beliefs that an INEC required by such an independent body will enhance the independence of INEC. The Transition Monitoring Group, TMG Chairman, Moshood E rubami regretted that even though the Uwais committee made holistic recommendations, tempering with it by Yar’adua has destroyed the basis of the proposed reform. He therefore called it a ‘slap in the face of the nation’ that had been promised fundamental reform of the electoral process. The Action Congress, AC on its part said that what would have a paradigm shift from the past was marred by such flaws as the retention of the authority to nominate the Chairman of INEC in the office of the President. Expectedly but regrettably, the party in power, PDP, speaking through its National Publicity Secretary, Professor Ahmad Alkali said ‘the implementation of the white paper would be a great leap forward in strengthening the sanctity of the ballot box in the quest to institutionalize and stabilize the country’s democratic process’.

Other voices that condemned the doctoring of the Uwais committee report include notable Nigerian newspapers.

In its editorial titled ‘Electoral Reform: Yar’adua’s dilemma’ of March 16-22, 2009, an Abuja based weekly, Peoples Daily, Said: We share in the committee’s concerns about the independence of the electoral commission, the appointment of INEC’s Chairman, its funding and unbundling, the need to conclude election petitions before winners are sworn-in’. According to the paper, part of the problem is that there are many entrenched interests and forces that may not want any changes that will threaten or undermine their political ambitions.

Also, Vanguard newspaper in its editorial titled ‘ruined electoral reform’, of March 16, 2009 said: ‘Even prophets of doom would be alarmed at the extent the federal government went decimating the justice Uwais report to respectable irrelevance’. According to the paper government’s attitude to the Uwais report so far proves that the electoral reform was a public relations stunt aimed at reducing the tensions that arose from the 2007 elections’.

One does not need a soothsayer to convince him that the much touted electoral reform being canvassed by Yar’adua since coming to power on May 29, 2007 is merely a fraud. Yar’adua is never sincere in his words about reforming the electoral process simply because it will again afford him and his party another opportunity to swindle Nigerians and return un-elected people into electable positions. Well, our consolation is that once bitten, twice shy. Nigerians will never watch by and allow things to happen the way they did in 2007. Never again will they allow their mandate to be stolen by power-drunken elites in our midst.

Whoever succeeds in 2011 or in 2015 must bring Yar’adua, his Attorney General, Aaondoaka and a federal permanent Secretary Hakeem Baba Ahmed and the PDP to face vthe full weight of the law for duping Nigerians with a fake commitment to reform our electoral process. They must be punished for that deceit, insincerity and failure to match their words with action. They must be punished for electoral fraud.


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