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ELECTORAL SYSTEM MUST BE REFORMED TO ENSURE CREDIBLE POLLS – NIGERIANS

By NBF News
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As the nation marked democracy day recently, Nigerians have charged President Goodluck Jonathan to address some fundamental issues between now and next year when his tenure will end.

Prominent among what they want the president to address are energy crisis, electoral reform, security and corruption.

Their views are reproduced below.
Ernest Orji, lawyer
I expect that the president would have a clear focus. He should fine-tune the seven-point agenda that the late President Umar Yar'Adua had put in place. The power sector is important. I expect him to apply his energy in completing all NIPP projects. He should grant autonomy to states to develop their own power projects and reduce the Federal Government's involvement in the generation and distribution of energy.

Apart from allowing the states to come in, he should also allow foreign investors to come into the sector. If I were him, I would take interest in science education. He should take it to a higher level, a level that will see Nigeria produce and launch its satellite and develop high technology capacity. With science and technology, we will solve our problems. Our electoral system has been thoroughly destroyed. People should be allowed to vote freely and their votes should count. We need to adopt electronic voting whereby people's thumbprints would play a role. I believe that we need open secret ballot system.

Goddy Ibekwe, politician
Well, from the look of things, the president is doing very well. He started on a good note and the whole country is happy with him. This is the first time both the North and the South are happy with the way a president is piloting the affairs of the nation. I hope that we give him a chance so that he would prove that he really knows what he is doing. As for the election, I can assure you that he will be at the helm of affairs when the most credible election will be conducted in the country. So, there is a very great expectation in 2011.

Muoka Alex, lawyer
I expect him to solve the energy problem. If he does that, he has done well. As for the election, I am looking forward to upset and surprises. We are hoping that it would be a good election and the people will eventually triumph. That is what we expect in this country.

Ufere Anthony, medical doctor
I don't expect much from him because of the short time he has. Many people in government are interested in filling their pockets. They don't want the dividends of democracy to get to others. When Jonathan came in as the acting president, there was electricity everywhere. But as soon as he said he wanted to tackle energy issue, they started attacking him. There is a cabal in charge. I don't know much about his background. I only know him as a former governor and from being a governor he became vice president and subsequently, the president. As president, I know that he can perform if the people around him would allow him. But unfortunately their interest is to make quick money. What bothers me is that Nigeria is the only country where energy is not functioning. The people behind it are the Lebanese and their Nigerian cohorts. If the president should stop the importation of generators between now and September, there would be constant electricity.

As for the election, I expect Namadi Sambo to be the president if he plays his card well. Since the PDP said they have zoning system and it is going to the North, I think it is the reason they brought Sambo to understudy Jonathan. My advice to Jonathan is that he should not run because he would not win. It is the only way he can retain his honour.

Ikechukwu Ukaegbu, politician
I think President Goodluck Jonathan's government has started on a sound footing. What he needs to do is to ensure that the electoral reforms are done. This would go a long way in ensuring credible elections in the country. Also, corruption should be tackled head-on. It is only a democratically elected government that can fight the endemic corruption in the country. Jonathan must also be prepared to fight people I would call political terrorists, who would want to sponsor candidates with the intention to hijack government. We don't want anybody to impose on us bad candidates in next year's election.

Emmanuel Okonkwo, lawyer
We all know what our problems are, including Jonathan. He is not a foreigner. All we have been saying about the problems have not made any difference. All the same, I want him to tackle the power issue since the ministry is under the presidency. I want him to have direct control over the people in that sector to see that whatever he promised is not only in the media but implemented. He should provide more transformers and get rid of corrupt officials in the sector. Furthermore, we are living in a state of fear as a result of insecurity in the country. Therefore, ensuring security should be one of his priorities. Moreover, for him to achieve success in the 2011 election, he has to reform the electoral process, in accordance with Uwais report. If the president is interested in running for the position, he should not appoint the INEC chairman because a player cannot appoint a referee for a football match. There should be a holistic overhaul of our system.

Dennis Umweni, medical doctor
Electricity is the major problem we are facing in the country. Nigeria is in a state of comatose because we have been unable to revamp the sector. Successive administrations have tried but failed because of lack of ideas and insincerity. Yar'Adua's government tried to tackle it, but his health problems did not help the situation. Now that Jonathan has taken over, he has to take a decisive step to arrest the ills in that sector. Again, I want him to put an end to the importation of fuel. We cannot put the fate of the nation in the hands of selfish and corrupt people. The people regarded as members of the cabal must be dealt with, because they are the ones who sabotaged the efforts of the various governments in the past.

They are behind the unending fuel scarcity. The only way to put them out of business is to ensure that our refineries are working. Jonathan must sacrifice everything within his power to to ensure functionality of the refineries. Furthermore, I expect him to embrace the principle of rule of law, like his predecessor. The judiciary, as they say, is the last hope of the common man. He must strengthen the system and ensure that the judiciary is respected and court judgments obeyed. He must also settle the Niger Delta problem. I thank God that he is from that region. As for me, the idea of paying them monthly allowance is not the solution.

As for the 2011 election, he has to appoint a God-fearing person as INEC chairman to conduct a free and fair election. He must prepare the police for the exercise by training and equipping them. Another area is that he has to unite the nation, as an indivisible entity devoid of ethnic and religious coloration.

Isaac Ojo, pharmacist
The time for Jonathan is too short. So, it will be too much of a demand to expect so much from him. However, I want him to restructure the seven-point agenda of his predecessor. There should be only one agenda: Epileptic electricity is the bane of industrial development of the nation and the attendant unemployment. Even though he cannot take us to the promised land on the energy issue, because of the short time he has, let him ensure that there is a significant level of development in that sector.

With regards to the 2011 election, there is no doubt that Jonathan has a lot to do. Every election in Nigeria is characterised by security problems. I want him to place more emphasis on security of life and property. The police should be well trained and tutored on the need for them to be neutral during the election. Furthermore, I commend him for the bold step he has taken by refusing to renew the tenure of the former INEC chairman, Prof Maurice Iwu. The next thing he should do is to make sure that a credible person is appointed to head the commission, who would then give us a free and fair election. It is not going to be easy, but I know he can do it. Nigerians are tired of being ruled by mediocrities.

Reagan Ufomba, politician
He should be fair and drive his vision. Nigerians expect that he continues the political reforms and conducts credible election. He should see his government as the one in transition.

Christopher Yolo, public commentator
There is no gainsaying that Jonathan has a lot of problems on his shoulders. I do not expect him to carry everything on his shoulders. What he has to do is to focus on some key areas of life, especially the energy problem the nation has been grappling with over the years. It is surprising how successive governments have failed woefully in that area. It is an indication that half-baked leaders have been ruling us over the years. They are only interested in lining their pockets. Now that Jonathan, who is regarded as an intellectual, is in charge, Nigerians expect him to deliver. He has to carry on with the electoral reforms and ensure that there is a credible election next year.