Elections: Rights boss challenges INEC to surpass 2015 record

…Sanusi wants youth to take over in 2023


Former Director General of the National Human Rights Commission, Prof Chidi Anselm Odinkalu, has tasked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to do all in its power to ensure that the 2019 general elections was better than the record set by the commission in the 2015 general elections.

Odinkalu who was on Thursday the keynote speaker at the 2019 Murtala Muhammed Memorial Lecture  in Abuja said Nigeria has successively improved in the conduct of its elections

Speaking on the theme: “Towards Peaceful and Participatory Credible Elections: Moving Nigeria’s democracy forward”, Odinkalu said Nigeria’s elections matter to world because it is the biggest African country.

Tracing the history of presidential elections in Nigeria, Odinkalu said Saturdays elections would be the ninth conducted in the country starting of that of 1979, 1983, 1993, 1999, 2003, 2007,2011, 2015, saying that Nigeria managed to fall and managed to rise on its own.

According to Odinkalu, the story of the elections has been progressive due to the vision of the late Gen Murtala Muhammed who he said initiated the transition to civil rule in 1975 with several steps but could not implement it because of his tragic death.

He stated that the Murtala vision not only made the Nigerian woman to attain the universal suffrage in only 1976 , he added that late Muhammed’s vision of a federal country, a presidential system of government and bicameral federal Parliament still stood today.

Odinkalu stated Nigeria has been somewhat guided even during the military era that it has to return to a democratic government, noting that with the consciousness of democracy amongst Nigerians, military coups as well as rigging has receded.

While applauding the observer missions for having interest in Nigeria’s elections, he said they should be cautious in pronouncing their verdict in order to avoid what happened in Kenya where the observer missions had passed a judgment of free and credible elections only for the Supreme Court of Kenya to say otherwise.

He chided politicians for the 140 killings recorded since the commencement of campaigns in Nigeria advising the political actors to be wary of their speeches.

The politicians must understand that they are running for office to lead a country and not a cemetery, Odinkanu said. 

Also speaking, chairman of Northern Council of traditional rulers, Sultan Saad Abubakar called on leaders to listen to the citizens with a view to promoting their aspirations.

He however called on the citizens to use their votes to determine who pilots their affairs saying that those who queue up to vote were the ones who determine which direction the country goes.

Emir of Kano Muhammadu Sanusi II urged leaders to give young people the opportunity to lead while they play the role of counselors and guides, hoping that the next general election in 2023 would see more young people contesting for the president.

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