FORMER Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, Monday raised an alarm that there are danger signals over the 2019 general elections.
Jega, who raised the alarm while delivering the 2018 Democracy Day lecture in Abuja, also told the Federal Government to ensure that security operatives display high sense of professionalism and neutrality in the forthcoming elections.
Speaking on the danger signs as the 2019 elections draw nearer, Jega said: “The first thing to consider is electoral violence and there is no better way to address this than what happened in recent party congresses and its potential danger.
“If political parties cannot organise their internal elections peacefully, how can they engage the other parties with civility in the general elections? It is very important that this is addressed because if there is crisis in the elections, it is the electoral commission that gets blamed.
“So, it is very important that we improve our systemic mechanisms of addressing violence and conflicts related to elections and in particular improving the score of internal democracy within political parties. We may be running out of time, we must try harder and do everything possible within the shortest time.
Jega also said it was through God’s intervention that the country was not thrown into constitutional crisis during the 2015 general elections.
He further said there was deficit of good governance in the country and that the government should not only be concentrating on theft and embezzlement in its fight against corruption, but should do something about bribe-taking at all strata of government.
The former INEC chairman, who said INEC is currently confronted by electoral challenges, noted that the plethora of violence witnessed during the just concluded congresses of All Progressives Congress (APC) portended great danger and threat to democracy.
He said if political parties could not observe internal democracy and conduct peaceful congresses, it is a dangerous sign over what would happen in the general elections.
He noted that the INEC is operating under serious pressure, “So it is very very important to accelerate this process of having a new improved legal framework for INEC to be able to do its job because right now, it is operating under serious pressure.
“Again, we should be mindful of the ECOWAS protocol that we have signed, which requires all signatories to ensure that any amendment to the electoral legal framework is concluded at least six months before a general election, ideally it should be at least one year before general elections.”