The minority leader of the House of Representatives, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, has advocated faster democratic procedures for the removal of political officeholders who manifest incompetence or abuse in the delivery of the mandate vested in them.
He also called for greater awareness and participation of Nigerians in electoral and governance processes as a way to elect the right leaders as well as hold officeholders and political parties more accountable for their actions.
Elumelu, who spoke while delivering a public lecture at the 5th Biennial Convention of the Class of 84 of his school, St. Pius Grammar School, Onicha Ugbo, Delta state, on Saturday, insisted that Nigerians are being short-changed by incompetent, corrupt, selfish leadership in various sectors of the national life.
Speaking on “The Role of Enhanced Electoral Awareness in Improving the Quality of Leadership In Nigeria”, Elumelu stressed that the desired quality of leadership can only be achieved if the electorate is adequately enlightened and mobilised “to make informed choices relating to the electoral worthiness of candidates at elections.”
According to him, “such awareness must also include practical ways of influencing government’s decision-making processes and holding leaders accountable along the lines of set rules.”
Stressing that Nigerians have not been adequately enlightened for the desired political participation that can engender quality leadership, Elumelu lamented that such has led to the festering of voter apathy, voter suppression as well as political alienation which have in turn prevented the people from choosing the right leaders and holding them accountable for their actions.
Elumelu recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari was reelected in 2019 with 15.2 million votes representing about 18 per cent of the 84 million registered voters; 13.2 per cent of the estimated 115 million voting-age population and about 7.6 per cent of the total population of the country by 2019.
He stressed that such indices cannot represent the desired preference of 200.9 million people and cannot guarantee the shared pursuit of the collective aspiration of such a population of people.
Listing his solutions, Elumelu, among other things, called for concerted multi-sectoral electoral awareness creation by political parties, schools, faith-based organisations, government agencies, traditional institutions, community-based establishments, and CSOs with targeted participation of not less than 70 per cent of the eligible national population and not less than 80 per cent of registered voters in electoral and political processes.
“Such value-driven enlightenment must focus on electoral worthiness of candidates as against tribal, religious, partisan and pecuniary considerations.
Elumelu also advocated that the “appointment of Federal minister and commissioners in the state should be accompanied with specific portfolios to enable the people, through their elected representatives, to assess their worthiness for their proposed positions in government.”
The minority leader further recommended that the “statutory provisions for impeachments and recalls of elected officeholders should be made more democratic and enforceable as a way to make elected leaders more answerable to the people.
“Provisions should be added in the Constitution to empower the people, through the elected representatives in the legislature to enforce the removal of ministers, commissioners, and other executive appointees with established cases of incompetence or gross misconduct.”
Urging INEC to make the electoral procedures less cumbersome, Elumelu recommended stiffer punishments for INEC officials, politicians and political parties found culpable of electoral offenses.
“There should be a provision which makes a returning officer culpable of electoral offense in a case where an election is annulled by a court on allegations of electoral violations. Such provision would deter electoral officers from being used the manipulate elections,” he said.
The minority leader also called for deliberate effort by political parties and civil society organisations to groom desired leaders, while charging the mass media to resist partisan pressure and be more forceful in awareness creation and holding leaders accountable.
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