Former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan

Former President, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has called for the strengthening of the nation’s electoral laws to restore the integrity of the ballot. Dr Jonathan argued that the standard practice is that the electoral management bodies exercise the sole responsibility of returning candidates and declaring winners while the judiciary complements by either upholding declared results or nullifying flawed elections and ordering a rerun. The former President urged youths to get involved in politics, saying the political system controls everything globally. Jonathan, who spoke in Abuja on Monday, during a studio visit to the digital pan-African news network, the TOS TV network, led by Ms Osasu Igbinedion, said the ballot, and not the judiciary should declare the winners of elections. The former president, who had led election observer missions in Africa since he lost to President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2015 poll, however, acknowledged that money is required to offset basic logistics costs during the campaigns, but money should not be used to induce the electorate.

He stated, “Ballot papers should be the basis of selecting political officeholders. If it is the judiciary that should select them then we are not yet there. I am not saying the judiciary is not doing well but our laws should suppress the idea of our judiciary returning candidates. The ballots should decide who occupies the councillorship seat up to the presidency; that is democracy.” Jonathan decried money politics and criticized politicians using gifts to sway voters. He said, “The problem we have in Nigeria is the use of money to induce some voters. Compared to other African countries, we spend too much money here. Probably, we need to review our laws because I have observed a number of elections in African countries. For instance, in Tanzania, a candidate does not need to print his name on matchbox or any items to woo voters. If you do that, they say that you are inducing the electorates. It is against their laws. But here if somebody is contesting elections, you buy bags of rice, wrappers, and all manner of items to induce the electorates. Ordinarily, our electoral laws are supposed to frown on such practices. If you do that, you are supposed to be disqualified from contesting in the election. So, these are the things that make our elections expensive. I think if the young people are willing, things should begin to change.” He expressed satisfaction with the level of participation by youths in partisan politics, urging a deliberate attempt to encourage women’s active participation in government and governance of the country. Decrying the maladministration at the third tier of government, Jonathan insisted that the local government system must be made to work for the good of the people at the grassroots.

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