ELECTORAL REFORM REMAINS A RECOMMENDATION, JONATHAN TELLS UWAIS
President Goodluck Jonathan
President Goodluck Jonathan has replied the Chairman of the Electoral Reform Panels Chief Justice Muhammed Uwais, (retd) who, over the weekend, reportedly said the key recommendations of the committee were not followed in the appointment of officials of the reconstituted Independent Electoral Commission (INEC).
Jonathan, through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ima Niboro, while stating that he shares Uwais frustrations that the appointment of the new INEC chair was not in accordance with the recommendations of the committee, however stated that the report remains recommendations no matter how well-meaning, until passed into law by the National Assembly.
According to the statement 'Our attention has been drawn to remarks by the Chairman of the Electoral Reform Panel, the highly respected retired Chief Justice Muhammed Uwais over the weekend. He had reportedly stated that key recommendations of the committee were not taken on board in the appointment of officials of the reconstituted Independent Electoral Commission, INEC.
He was also quoted as having expressed frustration that the appointment of the new INEC chair was not, strictly speaking, in accordance with the recommendations of the committee.
'We understand and to a large extent share the frustrations of the eminent Jurist. This is even more so if we recall that it was the late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, to whom Dr. Jonathan was deputy, that set up the Justice Uwais Committee in the first place.
We must also recall that Dr. Jonathan played a key role in the process, having chaired the committee of all political parties, less the Action Congress, that took a wide-ranging look at the defects of our electoral system, and whose report was passed on to, and largely adopted by the Uwais panel.
The statement read further, 'however, no matter how we feel about the reforms, law is law, and Justice Uwais probably knows this more than the rest of us. For now, the law in place mandates the President to nominate the Chairman and members of the electoral commission, along with state chairmen of INEC, present them to the National Council of State, which is advisory, and send to the Senate for screening. This is exactly what the President has done. The recommendations of the Uwais panel, no matter how well meaning, remain recommendations until they are passed into law by the National Assembly.
'We wish to note that with the Acting Chairman of INEC already complaining that time is too short to prepare for the next elections, and all manner of ridiculous tenure elongation scenarios being played in the media, it would have been foolhardy to put off a decision on reconstituting the electoral body until the National Assembly passes the Uwais panel's recommendations into law.
'This is why the President moved with dispatch to reconstitute INEC, putting together a team whose credibility has been hailed locally and internationally. I would like to state unequivocally that President Jonathan is fully committed to electoral reform, and is determined to ensure above all things that all votes count in Nigeria from now on,' the president assured.