The Minority Leader of Federal House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, has called for all-inclusive and multi-sectoral sensitization of citizens to engender active participation of large percentage of Nigeria’s eligible population in the nation’s political and electoral processes.
He made the call on Saturday night while delivering a lecture on “The Role of Enhanced Electoral Awareness in Improving the Quality of Leadership in Nigeria” at a dinner to close the 5th Biennial Convention of “Class of 84’’ of St. Pius Grammar School, Onicha-Ugbo, Aniocha North Local Government Area, Delta State.
At the event held at De GELLYS Hotel and Resorts, Umunede, Ika North-East Local Government Area, Elumelu, who represents Aniocha/Oshimili Constituency in the Green Chamber, insisted on the need for concerted awareness-creation that would ensure active participation of more than 80 per cent of registered voters in the nation’s electoral process.
According to him, it is instructive to reiterate that electoral awareness and mobilization of citizens’ participation in political and governance processes are sine qua non to quality representational leadership.
The lawmaker noted that the quality of leadership was determined by informed choices of the electorate made along the lines of electoral worthiness of a candidate and his political party as against primordial tribal, religious, partisan and pecuniary considerations.
He also pointed at the increasing necessity for citizens to utilize governance to their advantage by holding leaders accountable at all times.
He said that political alienation and voter suppression were prevalent in the country’s electoral process and attributed it to inadequate sensitization and mobilization of voters, absence of strong electoral laws, lack of credible, free, fair and transparent elections and incompetence, weak, ill-equipped and unreliable electoral umpire.
Other factors dogging the political system in the country, Elumelu stated, were paucity of model leaders, insecurity, disorderly and violent political campaign, unfulfilled electoral promises and disregard to rule of law and partisan mass media.
He said that apart from government agencies, political parties and the mass media, critical stakeholders, including civil society organizations, educational institutions, faith-based organizations, community unions and traditional institutions, must join in a targeted broad-spectrum value-driven electoral awareness.
“Critical stakeholders must scale up value-driven enlightenment of citizens on the benefits of quality leadership as a product of their informed participation in electoral and governance processes on one hand, and the bitterness of negative economic, social and political consequences of poor leadership, arising from lack of their participation in electoral and governance processes.
“Such value-driven enlightenment must focus on electoral worthiness of candidates as against tribal, religious, partisan and pecuniary considerations.
“Efforts must be made for massive mobilization towards voter registration. The current continuous voter registration must be maximized; a target of above 80 per cent of eligible voting population should be achieved by 2023.
“Citizens must be made to be more conversant with the provisions of the Constitution and the Electoral Act, especially relating to their rights on electoral and governance processes, including areas that grant them powers to hold leaders accountable.
“Such awareness will enable the citizens to participate in efforts geared towards good governance, including setting desired standards for electoral worthiness as well as preferred amendments in the law to guarantee free, fair and credible elections as well as a responsive leadership that is accountable to the citizens,’’ he said.
The lawmaker added that citizens should be encouraged to demand that antecedents, qualifications and other indices of electoral worthiness of candidate and political parties should be made public and scrutinized alongside their manifestoes at obligatory pre-election debates.
He also posited that statutory provisions for impeachments and recalls should be made more democratic and enforceable as a way to make elected leaders more answerable to the people.
“Midterm survey should be encouraged; a leader who fails a set standard in midterm polling should stand unelectable for a second term in office.
“Appointment as federal minister and commissioners in state should be accompanied with specific portfolios to enable the people, through their elected representatives, to assess their worthiness for their proposed positions in government.
“The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should take steps to further guarantee credible, free and transparent electoral processes. Registration of voters, accreditation at elections and balloting processes should be made more transparent and less-cumbersome.
“INEC should also take steps to accelerate the use of technology to enhance the credibility of voting and electronic transmission of declared results directly from the polling units so as to eliminate collation-related malpractices, including alteration of results,” Elumelu added.
Highpoint of the event was awards to some personalities, including posthumous one to the Principal of ‘’ Class of ‘84’’, late Paul Mozea, in recognition of his enormous contributions to their academic development and uplifting of the members.
Other awardees were Rt. Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, who got Alumnus Award for his commitment to the development of his constituency, contributions to the growth of the nation and dogged support for the association; Maj.-Gen. Lawrence Fejokwu and Brig.-Gen. Raymond Ochei, for their own contributions to humanity.
Mr Augustine Omordi, Mr Afam Okika and Mr Francis Oshai were among the beneficiaries.