AS the 2019 general elections draw closer with the attending political bickering, lawyers under the auspices of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Idemili Branch, Anambra State, has demanded greater transparency in Nigeria’s electoral process.
The group which called on INEC to live above board by showing greater transparency, credibility and accountability in the various elections it handles in Nigeria claimed that elections in Nigeria are neither transparent nor credible.
In a keynote address at the 2019 Bar Week concluded at the weekend in Ogidi, Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State, with the theme: “Restoring Credibility and Transparency to Elections and Electoral Processes in Nigeria”, the keynote address speaker, Prof. Ilochi Okafor, SAN, regretted the way elected representatives emerge at different levels of electioneering, and attributed the problem to what he called “biased electoral institutions” and prevalence of “uninformed or illiterate voter.”
According to him, for there to be free and fair election, there must be an electorate in which the average voter, in a political sense, is educated. Secondly, there must be credible institutions capable of conducting free, fair and unbiased elections.
Prof. Okafor, former Vice Chancellor of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, said some of the rot in the electoral process could be attributed to the behavior of the average illiterate voter; stating that as long as good majority of the electorate are starkly uneducated, true democracy will be a mirage.
In his remarks, Chairman of NBA in the branch, Mr. Pere Anthony Oseme, said the branch came up with the theme, “Restoring Credibility and Transparency to Elections and Electoral Processes in Nigeria”, because of their desire to see that an average Nigerian electorate is aware of his civic responsibility of the right to vote or be voted for.
Speaking also, the Chief Judge of Anambra Stage, Justice Peter Umadi, said the present effort by the Bar is to make sure that Nigeria respects democracy and the ballot; adding that Nigerians should join hands to nurture the country’s democratic norms and values, since democracy is the building block for development in all facets.