A former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission of Nigeria has advised politicians not to perceive political elections as ‘do or die’ affair but healthy competition.
This change of mindset about elections, Professor Attahiru Jega said would prevent electoral violence, maintain peace and facilitate development on the continent.
Prof Jega gave the advice at the end of his three-day mission in Ghana to share with the Electoral Commission (EC) his experience in best election management practices.
“When political violence occurs during elections, it adversely affects innocent citizens most especially women and children. Many die while valuable properties are destroyed and for this reason and many more elections must not be a do or die thing,” he explained.
“Contesting to be elected into a public office means one wants to serve selfless. It is not an avenue to invest to make a profit as was happening in many African countries.”
Touching on his mission over the three-day period, Prof Jega said together with the officials of Ghana’s EC, they would be discussing issues on the preparations and the conduct of 2020 presidential and parliamentary elections.
While describing the mission as successful, Prof Jega said a considerable amount of time was devoted to sharing and deliberating on lessons, pitfalls, how to establish a very good biometric register that is transparent, upgradable, that rely on the appropriate use of technology.
Prof Jaga commended Ghana’s EC for its commitment towards conducting electoral process with integrity and urged all stakeholders especially political parties and the citizenry to support the Commission.
“Yes the EC has a constitutional mandate to conduct elections but stakeholders must not sit aloof but work together with them in sincerity and selflessly to succeed. The election management body cannot operate like an island, they need everyone on board. This has worked well for Nigeria and it will work here too,” he said.
Just as Ghana was doing, he said Nigeria at the beginning, had some experience that aided them to establish a biometric system that was highly recognised in Africa.
“Despite sharing my experience I have also learned a lot about Ghana’s system of elections and preparations towards elections 2020,” he added.
Prof Jaga has experience in election management and has supervised two general elections in 2011 and 2015 in Africa’s most populous country, which was widely accepted by stakeholders.
His visit was at the invitation of Ghana’s EC and formed part of efforts to broaden its scope, knowledge and learn best practices, both locally and internationally.
Jean Mensa, Chairperson of EC, reiterated that the EC was committed to providing transparent, inclusive and credible elections and would work hard to make that vision happen.
She said the Commission would continue to uphold the rule of law and create a level playing field for all the political parties.