- The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Nigeria's powerful trade union, in its New Year message said that electoral reforms are among its main political aims in 2005. Recent court cases had demonstrated that the conduct of elections in Nigeria were "a monumental disgrace" for democracy in the country.
NLC President Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole in his New Year statement to the Nigerian government and workers said that the year 2005 presented an "opportunity for the nation to rise up more determinedly with the challenge of improving the quality of governance through the required economic and political reforms." The trade union's "major national political project of 2005" was the implementation of electoral reforms, Mr Oshiomhole announced.
Recent events "demonstrate that there are deep-seated crises in the electoral law and system," the trade union leader said. A majority of current office-holders were "clearly products of fraudulent electoral practices," highly profiled court cases regarding the presidential election and elections in Anambra State had demonstrated.
While the NLC had supported the re-election campaign of President Olusegun Obasanjo, the trade union has been critical regarding how the presidential poll was organised. The Nigerian opposition had proven widespread rigging in the election, but a Court of Appeal recently turned down their call for a re-run.
In Anambra State, however, massive rigging had been proven and even recognised by the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The trade union called for consequences after these disclosures, which it held should cost Anambra PLP member in the Senate and House of Representatives their seat.
- In effect, the current electoral law and system make peaceful change of incompetent leadership almost impossible and favours incumbents or elements with enough financial muscle and control of security apparatus to organise rigging, Mr Oshiomhole. "In this respect, Nigeria has not led Africa by example, as her conduct of elections remains a monumental disgrace in the face of the democratic accomplishments of countries like Ghana and South Africa," he added.
For the NLC, the major national political project of 2005 therefore was to be electoral reforms. The process should start immediately, Mr Oshiomhole held. Congress should "work with its allies in the civil society, professional groups and political parties to mount pressure on the Executive and National Assembly to overhaul the electoral legislation and system, including the re-organization of INEC."
- The nation cannot be serious about democracy and good governance in the absence of free, fair and transparent elections, where each ballot counts and is counted, Mr Oshiomhole said. "The immediate future of democracy can only be secure if the nation develops truly independent and effective institutions that will ensure among other things conduct of free, fair, and transparent elections."
The NLC leader further said that an electoral reform should deal with finding expeditious, fair and satisfactory resolution of electoral disputes, new rules to even-out the advantages of incumbency and imposition of reasonable campaign financing limits.
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