INEC Report on the 2007 Election and Electoral Reform – INEC and Dr. IWU have facts and figures on ground.
Analysis from the INEC official Report on the Nigerian 2007 General election held in Washingon, DC on 12/18/2007 at the National press Club and at the Nigerian Embassy in Washington, DC
Having listen to Dr. Maurice Iwu, the INEC Chairman at the World press conference and noted his points during the presentation of the official INEC report, I was suprised on how he was able to clarify and explain with good reason all his points to the audience. Nigerians, the press, candidates and members from different political parties in Nigeria, the oppositions and a lot of activists who came to the press presentation armed to the teeth to discredit him were all disarmed with his well thought out explanations, facts, figures and evidence. Infact all the press, the oppositions, members of political parties and activists in the press conference did not have their facts correct or any evidence to back up their claims – Almost all of them were quoting newspaper or internet reports and less then one percent were on ground in Nigeria during the election . Dr. Iwu and INEC officials on the other hand had all their facts and figures correct and had enough evidence to back them up. I was impressed indeed.
Importantly, when one looks at the problems with the elections in general, a large part of the problems were within the party machineries and the general attitude of Nigerian people and leaders to develop acceptable political culture and to learn to respect the law and order. That is where most of the issues of lawlessness lies and needs redressing; the problem is not with INEC or Dr. Iwu. I am appealing to all the Monday morning quarterbacks and armchair critics; that they should try to get hold of the INEC report and read it carefully, then try to have access to INEC with your facts, figures and evidence confront INEC with it. You can not be making wild accusations of what should be and what should not be based on what you read from the internet and Nigerian newspapers.
Further, INEC deserves praise so far on the April 2007 election work and the difficult situation it faced before, during and after the election in Nigeria, based on the official and professional manner it has trained and prepared its staff for the election of 2007. The official report on the 2007 General elections presented to the World press in London and Washington, DC ( At the National Press Club and at the Nigeria Embassy) proves that Nigerians have to look deeply at the prevailing Geo-political situation facing Nigeria both internally and externally; to appreciate the work of INEC. It has not been easy so far for Nigeria and INEC especially if one makes out time to read the official report like I have done. In the history of Nigeria, this is the only time an electoral body has a website for information, and have prepared a report on the outcomes of a general election.
The pressure and agitations from different groups like some political parties,the press, some powerful individuals, Nigerian civil society groups, external forces like European Unions, United States and others Foreign NGOS should in no way derail Nigeria determination from moving forward. We must not allow our nation to be blackmailed or for Nigeria to be transformed into a Banana Republic where external forces will take a strangehold of our national pride and dictate to us.
Though a lot of mistakes were made in the preparations and conduct of the election, but we must learn from it and try to do better next time. Right now Nigeria has no other option but to move forward and learn. We must keep our nation one and strong.
The legal and political fight with the political parties and politicians should not in no way diminish the good work and professionalism exhibited by INEC leadership and its Chairman Dr. Maurice Iwu which is evident on the ground all over Nigeria for those who want to appreciate Nigeria’s positive effort.
After the election and election tribunals have done their work and swearing in of elected winners is over, INEC should start to propose a new electoral and constitutional reform on how we should begin to elect our presidents in Nigeria for peace and stability in the future. Every tribe, religion or groups in Nigeria wants to be accommodated and feel safe and comfortable with the system in Nigeria, and that is why advanced democracies like the United States introduced and are using Affirmative action in employment and othe quota system like redistricting to give and empower minorities to be represented fairly and evenly in electoral districts.
Further, examining the problems and conflicts we have been having in electing, selecting or picking our executive president since the beginning of Nigeria, has lead to so many setbacks and it has deprived us of our quest for a stable nation. I think in choosing our President we have to try a new system, because of our diversity and the need to make everyone, every zone and every ethic group feel comfortable and to remove fear of domination; which will lead to a more stable political system. It will also make it more difficult for coup makers to find supporters or reason to set the country back.
No matter which zone that produces the next president in 2007 and beyond, we have to admit it Nigeria maybe in serious trouble looking at the situation of things right now. Infact breakup of Nigeria is seriously in the horizon and we do not have to let it happen, because it will be the bloodiest conflict Africans or the World can imagine. Lets reduce this tension now and move Nigeria forward by making meaningful changes in our constitution and electoral system.
My suggestion is Executive Presidential council which has also been suggested by prominent Nigerians like Senator Melford Okilo and others, in this case each of the Zones( South-South, South East, South West, North West, Middle Belt and North East) will elect a person or two into this Executive Presidential council and within this Presidential Council of Six persons or more whom will be replaced from his or her zone incase of death , health reasons or removal/impeachment etc.
This six or more members of the executive Presidential Council will pick a president and Vice- President among themselves, and the other remaining members will be working within this Council on different projects decided by the constitution like ministers positions in the powerful ministries like Defense, Petroleum, Finance, Agriculture, internal affairs etc on rotation basis, and still be members of the council till four or five year term limit or reelection; and the responsibility of Governing such an ethnic diverse country of 250 ethnic tribe can be manageable and every zone will feel represented at any given time. The president and the vice-president will have executive powers.
This Council will have sole responsibility to govern Nigeria as the executive branch and we will still have our senate, House of Representatives, State House and the local governments. We can try this to make Nigeria stable and take away this fight over sole Presidency and by this Nigeria will move forward politically and economically; and each zone will have a chance at the Presidency by gentleman agreement and working together in the council.
Democracy is good for our growth and diversity but we must not use only American or British System, we have to add some other dimension from Nigeria situation knowing fully well educationally, religiously , culturally and language we are so different from America or Britain. We need our own brand of democracy to fit and contain our explosive situation.
The main Problem in Choosing a President in Nigeria is fear of domination from each of these zones, ethnicity and tribal fears of domination . By this we are removing fear of domination religiously , economically and educationally by having an executive Presidential Council fully empowered to lead Nigeria and I think all these tension in Nigeria will be reduced if this system can be adopted.
We will still have our National Assembly (Senate and House of Representatives) in place. This Presidential council will have to be empowered fully and totally to govern Nigeria with all the executive power and constitutional responsibility to lead Nigeria. It will reduce the desire for toppling/Coup against the Government and all these tension by every zone claiming right for the presidency in 2007 and beyond will be reduced or removed.
If this system is adopted then every zone and every culture is fully represented and all the talk of war, hell and confusion will be removed from our political system.
Send this suggestion if you can to the Presidency, National Assemby,Governors,State House members, religious leaders, Nigerian Labour Congress, Nigerian Bar Association, Ohanaeze Leadership, Afanifere Leadership, Arewa Leadership, Ijaw Congress, Urhobo Union, Middle Belt union etc and the leadership of other tribes and groups I did not mention here.
It may not be the best suggestion, but we need all the good ideas and suggestion to keep the most influencial black nation on earth together.
This is my contribution to the new constitutional and electoral reform needed in Nigeria urgently.
Ugo Harris Ukandu
Nigeria Democracy and Justice Project