Chairman of the Indepen-dent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Maurice Iwu, yesterday replied the critics of 2007 general elections, saying the conduct of the elections was far better than the June 12, 1993 election which is generally regarded as the freest and fairest in the history of Nigeria.
Chief MKO Abiola was widely believed to have won the Presidential election of June 12, 1993 on the platform of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP).
But Iwu has stated in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that this year’s election was better than June 12.
He said Nigeria was able to transit from one civilian regime to another for the first time in the history of the country.
He added: “It was a sad commentary on our country that the only election we accepted as free and fair was an unsuccessful election, because nobody won and nobody was elected as president.”
The INEC chief said in spite of the odds against the smooth conduct of the 2007 general elections, INEC was able to organise free and fair elections that produced winners from state assemblies to the office of the president.
Iwu said: “It was a sad moment to say that 2007 elections was the worst elections when we knew what was happening in other parts of the world.”
Although he said that the 2007 elections were not perfect, Iwu insisted that not only were the elections free and fair but were also conclusive and successful.
He said: “The 2007 elections we agreed were not perfect, it was a human undertaking. It won’t have been perfect. But I still maintain to the annoyance of some people that the 2007 elections were free and fair.”
The INEC chairman cited a situation where out of eight presidential election cases at the Tribunal, six have been dismissed, while two were pending, without establishing any fraudulent cases against the commission.
He stressed that the negative media campaign against his person and the commission was not new as his predecessors suffered same.
He added that in spite of attacks on his person, he would remain resolute in actualising his mission of reforming the country’s electoral reforms, in line with what was obtainable in other developed nations.
He said: “Let them know that all the personal attacks further strengthen me as I am not a quitter. I would have resigned long time ago if they have been praising me as it is good to quit when the ovation is loudest.”
He urged Nigerians to have the interest of the country at heart, assuring the electorate that the commission had started planning for 2011 elections “to avoid the mistakes of the past”.