Jonathan deserves kudos for allowing independence of INEC –Akinmoladun | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Jonathan deserves kudos for allowing independence of INEC –Akinmoladun

Posted: Apr 7, 2015 at 4:53 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Andrew Dayo Akinmoladun is a professor of City University of New York. He arrived Nigeria few weeks ago for the purpose of participating in the March 28 poll. In this interview with CORRESPONDENT, GBENGA FATUROTI, he speaks on the conduct of INEC and the electorate during the election and his expectations of president-elect, Muhammadu Buhari. Excerpts…

What is your view on the just concluded Presidential and National Assembly Elections conducted by INEC?

Andrew Dayo Akinmoladun

Andrew Dayo Akinmoladun

The outcome of the election was not surprising because the people are yearning for change and with that view I think people are tired especially with the style of governance of the present administration and with the advent of internet it has enlightened the citizenry of what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. So this has actually gingered the whole citizenry to the extent that one can be in Osun State and dialogue with people in Sokoto State. As a matter of fact, that has increased the level of awareness of people and the quest for a change. And the outgoing administration has failed the Nigerian citizenry in a way that basic amenities are not there for them. Having said this, the way the election has gone is not a surprise. I can say that we really have to give kudos to President Jonathan because he would be the first President that we can say did not interfere with the electoral process. This is the first time in the history of Nigeria that an opposition will actually win an election. This is a step forward for more positive things to come. The People are now aware that if you are there; you don’t do it right, they have their vote to change you anytime.

How did you see the conduct of the election with the introduction of card readers and Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs)?

We have to really credit the electoral empire for they are right in the middle. I think there is no process that is one hundred percent good but with the level of what we have done in this particular election using PVC and the card readers I think will credit INEC and Nigerians for job well done. It takes time to achieve this level of development. Even in United State of America, we only have paper voter card and not the plastic card. So this is to tell you that we are one step ahead of US voting system. I voted in November and I still use my paper card. That still show you that the level of sophistication of our ballot is even better than most of the western world. Given the level at which it was managed, within the short time, I think we have to appreciate and thank all those people that participated in the system.

Before the last election, we had some people drumming up for war and singing war songs claiming that if a particular candidate did not win the election, there would be war, what is your reaction to that?

All of them are political animals but with various distinctions. In politics, even in the western world, you will see them antagonizing one another but at the end of the day, they will still call one another at night and fellowship with each other; so it is natural with politics. That is part of the game, but we still need enlightenment, we still have to let people know that at times the husband and wife can disagree and at the end if their main objectives is to serve the people, they should know that we fight to agree and we also fight to disagree. So these are areas where we need political literacy to let the people aware that this thing is in the interest of entire country and not for the family business and it can you today and it can be somebody tomorrow. If the purpose of going there is to serve your people; then you should be ready to go with whatever consequences that is attached to the position.

In which areas do you want improvement from INEC and the electorate?

There are still room for improvement on the part of INEC and the electorate. The umpire has tried its best; Nigerians only need enlightenment on the electoral process and system and play the game as expected so that we can achieve better results in the future.

What is your advice for the opposition party that has just won the election?

Nigeria is one, we might be bounded South-West; North-West, North-East, South-East, South-South or whatever, but the word, Nigeria, is one and the person that wins is the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He has to now sit down, take up the fighting clothes and begin the work because the trust the people repose in him he has to keep up to that expectations. People are suffering; he has to evolve programmes that are germane to solving people’s problems. The easiest way to go is to find a lasting solution to electricity; lasting solution to potable water supply; if there is electricity, business will come; when there is water, business will also come; when there is good roads, business will also come. These are very important for the survivability of the citizenry. And the rate of unemployment is high, they have to come up with programmes that actually put people to work; create small loans for people, create micro finances that will propel the finances of individual localities; identifying most of the natural resources that is ascribed to a particular state and develop them so that all these graduates that we have can be gainfully employed and the very moment you solve the problem of employment, you have solved the problem hooligalism.

What is your advice on the calibre of people that should work with the new president; what qualities do you think he should possess?

I think the new President has to learn from the outgoing President because you could be a very good person, be a good manager yourself but if you don’t have good lieutenants, invariably you would be a failure. My advice is that Mr. President-Elect should make sure that whoever that is going to man a particular ministry has an idea of what that ministry is all about. You don’t put somebody that does not have military experience in the Ministry of Defence? You don’t put somebody without educational experience to be in charge of education? These are the people that you have to make sure that they are experts in their field so that when they are giving them report about such ministries, they know which one is value, which one to use and one to discard. This is very important because the mistake the outgoing government made was just putting anybody as long as he is party selected and put them in the ministry that they don’t even have a clue about. So invariable, instead of the minister running the ministry, it is the permanent secretaries or career officers that do the work. The new president must be very aware of that and he should take his government to the grassroots.

The report of the Constitutional conference has remained controversial, especially on implementation, that it has become subject of campaigns among parties. The outgoing government said that it is only the PDP government that can implement it, what is your advice in this regard?

There is nothing bad revisiting the report of the constitutional conference and if government finds the report valuable I think they can extract from it and implement those that help the cause of Nigerians to enjoy. If the government finds it valuable, the government can try as much as possible to extract the usable part of it for the benefit Nigerians as a whole.