Jonathan, Tambuwal disagree on polls’ credibility

By IAfrica
In Nigeria
Aug 25th, 2014
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President Goodluck Jonathan and House of Representatives Speaker Aminu Tambuwal yesterday disagreed on the credibility of recent governorship elections.

To Tambuwal, the polls were more like those conducted by the military regimes and were not free, fair and credible.

The Speaker said the elections had been characterised by intimidation, which is undemocratic, causing apprehension among voters.

But President Jonathan insisted that the elections in Ondo, Anambra, Ekiti and Osun were not only credible, but demonstrated that electoral reforms were working.

They spoke at the opening ceremony of the 54th Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Owerri, the Imo State capital, with the theme: “Nigeria, a hundred years after”.

Jonathan, represented by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN), said the government focused on the reform of the country’s electoral processes to make them better and more responsive to the people’s yearnings.

“The free, fair and credible elections conducted in Ondo, Anambra, Ekiti and Osun states is a demonstration of the efficacy of the reforms this administration has instituted in our electoral processes.

“While there is room for improvement, the fact that politicians can now congratulate each other at the end of keenly contested elections is glowing testimony to the progress made and the evolving political culture that credible elections have engendered in the polity,” Adoke said.

But Tambuwal said politics, which is supposed to be a pleasant routine for the common good, had become a source of “sickening stress” for the citizenry.

According to him, instead of looking forward to 2015 election with joy and pleasant expectations, the average citizen is apprehensive.

“When the complexion of election conducted by a civilian regime assumes the semblance of that conducted by a military junta, it is obvious that the nation needs help,” the Speaker said, adding:

“The nation craves for credible elections, which means elections that are free, fair, transparent and peaceful.

“Elections which are merely peaceful through the instrumentality of force and intimidation are neither democratic nor credible.”

On the fight against graft, Adoke said the anti-graft agencies had reviewed their operational modalities to make them more effective.

He disclosed that a national anti-corruption strategy had been articulated, in line with Nigeria’s obligations under United Nations Convention against Corruption – and would be presented to the Federal Executive Council for approval.

Adoke said every aspect of the tracing and recovery of stolen assets around the world, as well as settlement with the Abacha family by the Federal Government, was done transparently.

He urged anyone who has doubts to obtain information from his office under the Freedom of Information Act.

“We must discourage the pervading culture of baseless criticism for self-glorification and cheap popularity,” he said.

A former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, who will be 80 in October, said Nigeria at 100 years had not achieved its full potential.

According to him, there exists a conflict of ideologies between liberal democracy and Sharia, which must be reconciled.

Gen. Gowon, who chaired the event, condemned same-sex marriage, saying Nigerians must reject it.

“I find it difficult to accept the notion of same-sex relationship for the simple reason that it negates the law of nature, which created us male and female,” he said.

One of the major highlights of the opening ceremony was the showcasing of the achievements of the outgoing NBA President, Okey Wali (SAN), in a short documentary, with the new NBA House in Lagos topping the list.

The seven-storey edifice was built by lawyer and businessman Dr Wale Babalakin (SAN) through one of his companies, Stabilini Visinoni.

Babalakin, who was also featured in the documentary, praised Wali for his commitment to the realisation of the new NBA House.

Wali blamed insecurity and insurgency what he called the failure of the justice system.

“Creating more divisions of the army, air force, navy, police, DSS etc is not and cannot be the solution for today and tomorrow. It might be for today, but definitely not for tomorrow…

“The fact is that they (patriotic security agents) may very well have been kept off harm’s way if the needful had been done in the past.

“The core problem is the rot in our criminal justice system. Anybody can commit a crime and get away with ease.

“It, therefore, becomes difficult, if not impossible, to nip issues like Boko Haram in the bud. There are no security cameras; no finger prints banks, no criminal records.

“Unless and until we ensure the independence of the judiciary and fix our criminal justice system and justice delivery system, we would not have started the journey to making this country safe and secured,” he said.

The keynote speaker, Dr George Kwanashie, a historian, said development would continue to elude Nigeria until there is devolution of power.

In his view, power is too concentrated at the centre. He called for a returning of authority and responsibility to the “lowest level possible”.

At the event were Governors Rochas Okorocha and Emmanuel Uduaghan (who both partook in the showcase session), and Justice of the Supreme Court John Fabiyi, who represented Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Mariam Aloma Mukhtar.

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