Posted by From Funmi Peter-Omale in Abuja on
President Olusegun Oba-sanjo yesterday asked the new Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Maurice Iwu, to start making early preparations for the 2007 elections to instill confidence in the Commission.
President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday asked the new Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Maurice Iwu, to start making early preparations for the 2007 elections to instill confidence in the Commission.
The President also said the INEC boss would be held responsible for the success or otherwise of the 2007 general elections.
Speaking at the commissioning of the Commission's Information and Communi-cations Technology (ICT) centre in Abuja, Obasanjo urged INEC not to take anything for granted as elections are critical to any democratic process. He said elections are the climax of all political contestations.
Many analysts yesterday saw the President statements as signaling the beginning of early campaigns for 2007 presidential elections.
"In spite of the Nigerian attitude of never preparing nor easily accepting failure in an election, INEC must endeavour to make majority of Nigerians have confidence in the electoral process. I believe you have started preparing for the 2007 elections. It is never too early and all Nigerians are relying on you for a successful exercise," he said.
He disclosed that already some anti-democratic forces were preparing to test Iwu's steadfastness, courage, effectiveness and performance.
According to the President, "for you (Iwu), failure is not an option as history and all Nigerians will hold you responsible for lapses that compromise the election process."
The President said at all times, the electoral body must be and should be seen to be neutral, focused, organized, efficient, effective and capable of delivering its mandate. He noted that INEC must continue to retool regularly, drawing on lessons from completed assignments and experiences from other countries.
"We can no longer claim to be learning and re-adjusting to the new values of democracy," he said.
On Iwu's request for additional funding, the President disclosed that government was only willing to release funds to the Commission within the framework of available resources.
"Government is aware of the fact that like other critical agencies, INEC requires funds to function optimally. Let me assure you that the Federal Government is committed to providing INEC with all its needs within available resources, taking into consideration competing demands, prudence, elimination of corruption and waste in the deployment of public resources. As you all know, our resources are limited and we are in an era of reform that requires prudent deployment of resources, creativity and responsibility in resource utilization, and sacrifices from all," he said.
Obasanjo lauded former INEC Chairman, Sir Abel Guobadia, for establishing, protecting and nurturing the credibility of the Commission to an unprecedented level.
"The nation owes him a lot of gratitude and a prayer for his good health, peace of mind and progress in future endeavours," he said.
Speaking earlier at the occasion, Guobodia noted that Nigeria cannot afford to lag behind the rest of the world in the information super highway. He urged government to ensure adequate funding for the commission to enable it keep pace with periodic updates in both hardware and software as well as in the maintenance of the ICT equipment.
"The Independent National Electoral Commission has in the past few years invested heavily in Information and Communication Technology in its belief that the employment of technology in the electoral process is a necessary prerequisite for the credibility and efficiency of future elections in this country," he affirmed.
New INEC Chairman, Iwu on his own part solicited for additional funding for the commission, noting that the expectation for INEC to conduct free and transparent elections would be possible if availed of the needed resources.
"We will like to use this unique opportunity to appeal to Mr. President to intervene on our behalf in view of the imminence of the 2007 general elections. Although it is incontestable that the conduct of elections anywhere is fraught with unpredictable dangers, we are quite confident that the future of the electoral process in Nigeria is very promising. We are resolutely committed to this goal," Iwu said.
These terms and conditions contain rules about posting comments. By submitting a comment, you are declaring that you agree with these rules:
Failure to comply with these rules may result in being banned from further commenting.
These terms and conditions are subject to change at any time and without notice.