Prof. Attahiru Jega, former Chairman, Independent National Election Commission (INEC), has said that an overhaul of the electoral system in the ECOWAS Member States is critical to achieving credible, free, and fair elections in the sub-region.
Jega made this known during a Technical Session at the ongoing High-level Parliamentary Seminar of the ECOWAS Parliament on Thursday, October 14, in Winneba, Ghana.
According to him, independence, relative autonomy, the integrity of the electoral body with a good legal framework will bring the desired reforms in the electoral process of ECOWAS countries for good governance.
Jega said that achieving credible elections also requires the collaboration of all stakeholders; adding that the electoral body alone cannot succeed in delivering credible elections if other sectors are compromised.
“When we examine the conduct of elections in the last two decades in the ECOWAS Member States; we can see some progress that has been made but obviously there are lots of challenges which remains.
“To address these challenges, we need to pay attention to bringing about substantial and substantives reforms of the electoral processes and electoral systems which we use in the West African Sub-region.
“Most specifically we need to pay attention fast to the integrity of the election management body itself. This is key because whatever lacks integrity is unlikely to bring outcomes to integrity.
“We need to ensure that there is a robust legal framework which also has integrity; as a framework for the preparations and conducts of elections.
“I think quite often the legal framework to which electoral bodies conduct elections leaves much to be desired.
“It is very important that attention has to be paid in the appointment of the election management body; to not only personal integrity but competence and impartiality, if not neutrality.
“These are very important values that can help not only establish an effective and efficient and component body; but can also withstand negative pressures either from incumbent regimes; or from political parties; or even from candidates.
“Because regrettably, most of our political parties, both incumbent governments and candidates want to win elections either by hook or by crook.
“And if you have a weak election management body or an election body that can be politically factious; then there will be challenges of achieving at the core objectives of elections; as it relates to democracy and governance,” Jega said.
1st News reports that parliamentary Seminar with the theme “Two Decades of Democratic Elections in ECOWAS Member States: Achievements, Challenges, Challenges and the Way Forward” seeks to proffer solutions to electoral inconsistencies in the Member States.