2010 NBA Conference, Imoke Gives Recipe On credible Election
CALABAR, JULY 29, (THEWILL) - Governor Liyel Imoke of Cross River State has given seven imperatives of credible elections in Nigeria.
According to Imoke while presenting a lecture titled, "Imperative of Credible Elections in our Nascent Democracy" at the 2010 Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Delegates Conference at Jogor Centre, Ibadan, Wednesday, these include a people-based constitution, an enlightened citizenry, accountable leadership, democratic institutions, separation of powers, the sanctity of elections and credible opposition.
Imoke explained that the imperative of a people-based constitution involves the intention of making it more amenable to the needs of the people and should seriously consider how to develop and nurture a culture of constitutionalism as is in Ghana, South Africa and Eritrea where there are institutions that are legally mandated to mass produce, translate and educate the citizenry on their rights.
The Governor said the imperative of an enlightened citizenry ensures that every Nigerian citizen must be educated on their rights under the constitution and must be taught the ideals of liberty and equality and its implication.
On the imperative of accountable leadership, he averred that no leadership should be greater than the people as every leadership must be subject to the law and must submit to the law and must submit to the checks and balances of a democracy because whenever power is over concentrated on a leader, that leader is bound to violate elections.
He reasoned that under democratic institutions it must be recognized that there are institutions that are bigger than any individual and it is their duty to operate freely to safeguard the ideals of democracy and such institutions include INEC, the judiciary, the press and the police, adding that "it is expected that during elections they all work for the Federal Republic of Nigeria and not for the President or Governor".
The Governor posited that the imperative of separation of powers is of cardinal importance for any credible elections for power not to be concentrated in one hand as there must be devolution of powers because the existence of a huge and powerful central government which determines everything is also dangerous for democracy.
Imoke, who is also a lawyer by profession, disclosed that in the imperative of the sanctity of elections, citizens ought to be aware that there must be periodic elections and that it is in their power to remove and install government and that it must be taught in schools, churches, mosques and public places while elections must never be manipulated, delayed or cancelled arbitrarily.
Imoke emphasized that for there to be credible elections, there must be a credible opposition, offering the people a credible alternative to what they have because where there is no opposition, there is no election.
"In a democracy, power is from the people. It is from their mandate that elected officials derive their authority. The authority is legitimate if the people freely give the mandate. If elections are credible, those elected will enjoy the authority of their office. If on the other hand, elections are not seen as credible, legitimacy and therefore authority will be questioned, where authority is questioned, law and order break down, where law and order has broken down, there is an anarchy where there is systematic anarchy, the state falls. The correlation between credible elections and a secure and prosperous state is therefore evident and imperative," he stressed.
In a key note address by Governor Christopher Adebayo Alao-Akala of Oyo State represented by his Deputy, Alhaji Taofeek Oladejo Arapaja, he enjoined members of the association to avail the country, the products of their legal acumen in charting the future during these time of constitutional review and amendment, adding that though the legislature are the lawmakers, he considered the Bar as a pathfinder which will lead the way through the complex route of the review process so that at the end a just workable constitution will be the outcome.
Alao-Akala said the Bar as a vibrant part of the civil society must live up to its expectation as a formidable watchdog of all the three tiers of government, and charged them to see themselves first as Ministers in the hallowed temple of justice, to carry out their duties of bringing justice to the litigants as individuals but more importantly to the state as a whole.