Tony Ailemen, Abuja.
Former chairman of the Independent National Commission (INEC), Attahiru Jega, on Monday identified the altercations and violence that trailed the recent outcome of All Progressive Congress ( APC) nationwide congresses as danger signals that the 2019 general elections may not be hitch free.
Jega posited that the crises trailing the APC Congresses is a clear signal that the ruling party APC may not be able to guarantee the conduct of free and fair general elections next year.
The former INEC Chairman, reputed to have conducted the election that led to the change of government that secured victory for an opposition party in Nigeria for the first time in history, stated this while delivering the 2018 Democracy Day Lecture at the International Congress Center, Abuja.
“If political parties cannot organise their internal elections peacefully, how can they engage the other parties with civility in the general elections. It is very very important that this is addressed because if there is crisis in the elections, some of these issues are outside the scope of electoral commission but in the end it is the electoral commission that gets blamed.
Jega also listed what he described as “increasing incidents of hate speech” as other factors that must be checked ahead of the 2019 general elections
” The second thing we need to address is the recent spate of hate speeches by political actors, religious leaders. It is these unbridled utterances by opinion leaders, religious leaders, political leaders that facilitated electoral violence in general elections. So this has be tamed. Again, we must take serious measures to ensure that the rule of law is complied with, so effective prosecution is very important to mitigate against this challenge.”
Jega also cautioned the present administration against focusing too much on embezzlement and theft under the current anti-graft war, adding that the war should also tackle “bribe giving and taking in states and Federal Government institutions.”