The numerous promises made by PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari not to “interfere” in the elections of 2023 have been highly received, especially if he keeps his word. It is unimaginable in developed democracies like the United States, the United Kingdom, India, Pakistan, Israel, Ghana, and others for the government to directly influence the results of elections in which incumbent leaders are running.
This is due to the electoral umpire’s constitutional protection from governmental interference. Their independence has been demonstrated to be guaranteed.
However, in Nigeria, the term “independence” of our electoral arbiter is a farce.
Certain statutory institutions, such the Independent National Electoral Commission, ICPC, and others, are given the label “Independent” in an effort to mislead the unwary about how susceptible they are to the president’s control over their activities.
An ongoing military legacy is the INEC. All calls for reform from our previous leaders to ensure its independence and leave Nigerians a true democracy have been ignored because every president and ruling party wants to reap the benefits of the “powers of incumbency.”
According to the Nigerian constitution, the president has the authority to choose the INEC Chairman and Board. He is crucial to the Commission’s ability to raise money for its operations. Additionally, he is in charge of other organizations that INEC relies on, like the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the police, army, and security forces, to conduct elections.
The president has the authority to select and remove judges because the judiciary influences our elections.
A Nigerian president can decide whether to support free and fair elections.
Despite the dubious designation of “Independent,” the electoral umpire acting under such a system is not free.
Only when the president loses the ability to choose the chairman of INEC and its commissioners will there be true independence.
In football, the referee is never chosen by the players. The music is set by the one who pays the piper. INEC must also have complete financial independence.
The National Judicial Commission, NJC, a non-participant in our elections, shall appoint the electoral umpire, subject to the Senate’s permission, according to the Justice Mohammed Uwais Report, which must be put into practice.
We must make do with what we have in the interim. Hopefully, President Buhari will honor his commitment.
He is no longer a politician, but a statesman. In 2015, he benefited from a transparent and open election. Let him carry on that revered tradition.