Former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has faulted Nigeria’s electioneering process while advocating for the strengthening of Nigeria’s electoral laws to ensure only the ballot paper determines the winners of elections and not the courts.
The former president added that the standard practice is that 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.
Since 1999, Nigeria has recorded cases of courts declaring candidates winner of election contrary to ballot result.
However, Jonathan, while interacting with newsmen in Abuja, said: “I had already made a public statement on that to the effect that the ballot paper and not the judiciary should determine who wins elections or select political leaders. The ballot paper should be the only basis for selecting political leaders.”
He added that while countries that conduct free and fair elections have less election-related litigations, numerous court cases trail elections in fragile democracies.
He said further: “I have said this before and I will always repeat it. I am not saying the judiciary is not doing well. But my point is that our laws should suppress the issue of the judiciary-returning candidates. If a candidate is declared winner after a flawed electoral process, what the courts can do is to annul the election and order a fresh one, where a winner will finally emerge through the ballot. The ballot paper should decide who holds any elective office from the councillorship to the presidency. That is democracy.”
Although he conceded the need for some funds in elections, especially in the area of logistics during campaigns, he nonetheless, decried the negative way money is deployed to induce electorates, officials and security operatives.
Jonathan also pointed out the weakness of governance at local government level which is the third tier of government, particularly in the exercise of its autonomy and its capacity to manage development issues.
He therefore highlighted the need to review the local government system to enable the tier of government perform better in delivering democracy dividends to the people.