Electoral reform: Ezenwa recommends ad-hoc panel for recruitment of INEC Chairman, Commissioners 

Chairman, Partners for Electoral Reform in Nigeria (PEF) Chief Ezenwa Nwagwu, has recommended an ad-hoc platform consist of civil society, media, security, judiciary and political parties for the recruitment of Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and its Commissioners.

Nwagwu, who I also a member of the board of YIAGA Africa, said the ad-hoc committee recommend to the President and ensure that the President has no power to reject the recommendation.

Speaking in an interview with newsmen Sunday in Abuja, on the need for President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to ensure the country’s electoral system is also redirected, Nwagwu said although Justice Uwais reports talked about NJC to address the issue but “the NJC is a creation of the Constitution, like INEC. INEC is also a Commission created by the constitution. So another Commission cannot oversee another Commission. 

“My suggestion will be to say we can have an ad-hoc platform that does recruitments. That ad-hoc platform will include members of the media, civil society, political parties, judiciary, security agents and INEC itself, on an ad hoc basis to do the recruitment and recommend to the President and ensure that the President has no power to reject the recommendation. 

“There is something that is not sitting well in that kind of arrangement. So this who NJC conversation needs to be reviewed. And that’s why I think putting this on the table would be also very important. We need to also see whether we can pass the Electoral offence Bill, for the sake of the fact that the security agencies that have the responsibility to maintain law and order, have outsourced it. They have outsourced it, and now there is a cry for a an independent institution that can deal with issues of crimes committed during elections. But whether that will solve the problem is still part of the Nigerian conversation. 

“Where we are we always think that once we introduce something that is a silver bullet, to solving all the problems that we have. We can create a  department of police that is in charge of elections, just like you used to have railway police that was in charge of railways. 

“We can have departments in police that is in charge of elections. and recruit people into that place, so that this whole idea of IPO being from Zamfara and then when somebody is arrested, there will not be any opportunity to continue the case will be eliminated. And if you say INEC is the prosecuting agency, yet the budget of the legal department of INEC is something a Senior Advocate of  Nigeria (SAN) can bring out from his back pocket. You can’t therefore, put that kind of responsibility on INEC if you have not done the necessary things to empower them to be able to function and prosecute.

According to Chief Nwagwu, what is required now, is first, stocktaking, audit of all the reforms that we have done in the past. There needs to be a point in which we are sitting down to say ‘what have we reformed. What then needs to be improved upon?’

“I think that quite a lot of things have been done. The Nigeria Political Science Association, after the 2023 election did a review. We can take part of those reviews. Most of the Observer reports are already in the public domain. We can get all of those Observer reports and then harvest issues that do not require zonal hearings. That does not require a budgeting of billions. 

“We can use the line national assembly, House Committee budgets to interrogate those issues. Number one, could be the issue of cross carpeting. You do not need public hearing to know that there’s something obscene; that there’s something that insults the sensibilities of voters and their choice when you are elected under the platform of a political party. And then for flimsy reasons, you jump into another or cross over into another party.”