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Nigerian politicians have military mentality, Jega says



Former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commissioner (INEC) Prof. Attahiru Jega has said that the ‘predisposition and reckless’ mindset of Nigerian politicians whom he described as ‘militicians’, to elections, is a major obstacle to the electioneering process in the country.

Jega who spoke in Abuja on Thursday at the first University of Abuja Public Lecture Series, with the theme: Electoral Reforms in Nigeria: Challenges and Prospects, lamented that the 2007 elections were manifestly the worst in Nigeria’s history.

He expressed disappointment over the attitude of some politicians in the country, noting, that: “From my experience, I quite often say that Nigeria has a special breed of politicians (Nee: ‘Militicians’). They generally tend to believe that political power through elections has to be “captured”, and this has to be done by hook or by crook; and by any means necessary! To them, winning election is, literally, “a do-or-die” affair.”

Jega who is now with the Department of Political Science, Bayero University, Kano said the sad development remained a formidable challenge for future reformation of the Nigerian electoral process adding that: “As long as politicians continue to have this unwholesome mindset, efforts at electoral reform and deepening democracy would remain constrained.”

According to him, “INEC faced perhaps its greatest challenge in containing the predisposition and reckless mindset of Nigerian politicians. Any wonder then, that our political arena increasingly resembled a bloody battlefield, with maiming, killing, burning, and unimaginable destruction of lives and property. Navigating the ‘minefield’ of ‘do-or-die’ politicians as an impartial electoral umpire required nerves of steel, and we had to quickly the requisite thick skin, as well as appropriate containment strategies.

Read also: Ex INEC boss, Jega resumes as PLASU governing council chairman

“Compliance with the laws and insisting on same and respect for due process, as well as being none partisan and transparent, helped the Commission in navigating this ‘minefield.”

He advised government to ensure that security plays a wise roll in future elections.

Jega said further that: “A series of badly conducted elections could create perpetual political instability and easily reverse the gains of democratization. If adequate care is not taken, badly conducted elections can totally undermine democratization and replace it with authoritarian rule, of the civilian or military varieties.

“The 2007 elections were manifestly the worst in Nigeria’s history, as declared by both domestic and international observers. The EU observer mission, for example, noted that the elections fell “short of basic international standards”, and were characterized by violence and crude use of money to buy votes”.

He urged the youths to be interested in the electoral reforms for a better country.

Jega advised government to sustain the current ongoing reforms in the electoral process and ensure that the players and other stakeholders abide by the rule at all time.

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