Jonathan wants priority for primacy of the ballot in electoral process reforms

Tunde Opalana, Abuja

Former President Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has called for the strengthening of the nation’s electoral laws in such a way that only the ballot paper, and not the courts, is allowed to determine the winners of elections.

The former President stressed 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.

According to a statement yesterday by his Special Assistant, Ikechukwu Eze, the former President stated this on Monday in an interaction with newsmen during a visit to TOSTV Network studios in Abuja.

He 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.”

Dr. Jonathan further noted that countries that conduct free and fair elections experience fewer election-related litigations while numerous court cases following elections are the hallmark of 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 the 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.”

The former President who also admitted that some funds might be needed in elections, especially in the area of logistics during campaigns, however, frowned at the negative way money is deployed in inducing electorates, officials, and security operatives.

Dr. Jonathan also pointed out the weakness of governance at the 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 to perform better in delivering democracy dividends to the people.

Read the Source post on Daily Times Nigeria.