Africa's Electoral Processes Have Failed - Jega

Professor Attahiru Jega, former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has condemned the inability of the electoral process in Africa to create good governance.

Jega said this at the University of Ibadan, UI, recently, while giving the 2019 Convocation Lecture entitled, “Towards Credible Electoral Process and Sustainable Political Systems in Nigeria: What role for Universities”.

He said, “All over Africa, and indeed, to some extent, throughout the developing world, the electoral process is failing to entrench good governance and stable and sustainable democratic political systems as a result of what can be termed as a deficit of electoral integrity.”

According to him, deeply embedded unhealthy practices such as money use, terrorism, incumbency control, and a spectrum of electoral malpractice and fraudulent activity in the electoral process are seriously undermining its usefulness as a tool for liberal democratic development.

He revealed that dominant political groups could, and often do, deprive the electoral process of access to power for selfish and self-serving purposes, rather than for democratic growth that would satisfy the needs and expectations of the country’s majority of citizens.

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He added that “In virtually all cases, ritualized elections, which lack integrity merely serve to legalize, if not ‘legitimize’, access and control of power into executive or legislative arms of government by people unconcerned with, or indifferent to, the requirements of sustainable democratic development. Hence, such elections do not catalyze, nor guarantee responsive and responsible representation and/or governance.”

Jega confirmed that analyses of elections and election observation reports in general, and in Nigeria in particular, revealed overwhelming evidence of systematic electoral malpractice, the enormity and implications of which undermined the legitimacy of the elections and the processes of democratization that they are supposed to bring about.

“A situational and contextual analysis of the electoral process in Nigeria reveals an incredible level of electoral malpractices and thus an acute deficiency in electoral integrity, which are no doubt among the major sources/causes of political instability, weakness and inadequacy of the governance process and eroded the legitimacy of an elected government in the country.”

“Most significantly, there is a need for all stakeholders to strengthen their constructive engagement with the electoral process, with a view to improving, protecting and defending its integrity,” he said.