By; Sani Aliyu, Zaria.
Former inspector general of Police and Chairman, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) Alhaji Ibrahim Ahmadu Coomassic has called for the enhancement of the independence of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the abolishing of the State Independent Electoral Commission (SIECOM) to allow for only one electoral body to conduct elections in the country.
He made the call at the opening ceremony of the International Conference on Deepening Democracy through Elections in Nigeria: An Assessment, organized by the Department of Political Science and International Studies, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria held at the Assembly Hall today.
Alhaji Coomassie said INEC is a crucial element in the democratic process and it is the impartial referee in the contest between contending political forces.
The Sardaunan Katsina who was the Chairman of the occasion, warned INEC to never allow itself to beholden to even the political party in power.
According to him, INEC funds for all its activities must come directly from the source as the commission should never have to go cap in hand for resources to meet up with its statutory obligations of holding elections, registration of voters and all the activities that go along with it.
“Issues of registration of voters should be an on-going exercise for Nigerians who have come of age and should not wait until just before elections to register and acquire their permanent voter’s cards”.
In her keynote address, Professor Antonia Simbine, a National Commissioner, Independent National Electoral Commission, said Nigeria can do more to improve elections towards deepening democracy.
According to her, the commission requires the cooperation of the political class to play by the rules of the electoral game and convinced their supporters to maintain peace and harmony before, during and after elections in order to deepen Nigerian’s democracy through elections.
Professor Simbine lamented that many of the existing political parties are virtually inactive because whenever there is an election, particularly a re-run exercise, most of the political parties decline to field their candidates.
Also in his address the Vice Chancellor Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Professor Ibrahim Garba charged political scientists to continue to be critical if they fail in the exercise of their intellectual and professional responsibilities and ethics that would fulfil their responsibilities.
Prof. Garba said such conference is expected to create synergies between academics and policy makers in designing and formulating a sustainable and meaningful public policy.
According to him, this conference should at the end inform the government of some vital issues of prospects and dilemma in Nigerian democratic experiment.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Head of Department Political Science and International Studies, Dr. Yusha’u Abdullahi Yakubu acknowledged the support they received towards organizing the conference from both within and outside the University.
He said, it is the desire of the department to contribute to national discourse on Nigerian project particularly, the important task of sustaining our nascent democracy.
Prof. Yakubu said it is the opinion that democracy cannot be sustained, unless there are credible, free and fair elections that are acceptable to all stakeholders.