Electoral integrity in Africa can be improved – Prof Jega
Professor Attahiru Jega, a former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of Nigeria has asked African countries to pay attention to the use of appropriate deployment of technology to improve and increase election integrity.
“Electoral process that is conducted with integrity helps to elect people who will act as true representatives and will owe the people the honour and are more likely to be responsible and responsive to the needs and aspirations of their constituents.
Prof Jega gave the advice in an interview with the Ghana News Agency at the end of a three-day visit to the Electoral Commission of Ghana to share knowledge and best practices on the electoral process as the country prepares to hold elections in 2020.
He explained that elections that were conducted with integrity confirmed the legitimacy of the elected government, helped to bring stability, positioned the country on the path of consolidating democracy and expanded development.
The Former INEC Chairman said countries like Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and other African countries striving to improve electoral integrity must ensure that their Electoral Commissions conducted themselves impartially and professionally
As the continent prepares to conduct about 10 elections in the next two years, he advised electoral management bodies to be non-partisan, effective and create a level playing field for all political parties.
For politicians, Prof Jega counseled them to develop broad national interest as guiding principles in engaging politics rather than their objective of selfishness.
“Unfortunately, many politicians in the continent have this narrow political objective of wanting to be in the office by any means necessary and this makes the political process very tense and conflict-ridden,” he stressed.
“Political contest is supposed to be a healthy competition, a game and peaceful, but in many countries, it becomes do or die because of the way and manner politicians behave. Innocent citizens die and property are also lost through that.”
He explained that politics was a selfless public service, but not an avenue to invest to make profit as was happening in many African countries.
“The attitudes and mindset of politicians must change. This is the only way that countries can ensure good democratic governance and deepen democracy, which we all aspire. It is only through good governance that the resources of our countries could be properly harnessed to serve the needs of the people”.
He said the conversation tied in with a key principle agreed on by the African States under the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG), which is, the holding of regular, transparent, free and fair elections.
ACDEG is a set of principles that spells out the norms, values and standards – universal values of democracy and respect for human rights; rule of law premised on the supremacy of the constitution and the democratic and credible elections.