By; VITALIS UGOH, Calabar.
The Presidential Committee on Constitution and Electoral Reforms has called on stakeholders and critics of government to come out with credible ideas on the review of the constitution and how the electoral reforms can be improved rather than hiding.
The call was made in Calabar by the chairman of the committee Senator Ken Nnamani at its public hearing in the South South zone.
He said “this is the time to bring our ideas on how best government can improve on our Constitution as well as our Electoral Reforms in this country”.
The committee, he said, is ready to listen and digest all ideas and recommendations put forward to in preparing the final report.
According to him “democracy is not worth it if the people do not have the right to cast their votes”.
He recalled that there has been a progressive improvement in our electoral processes from 2007/2011 and 2014 general elections in the country
Nnamani said “for those who hide out there to criticise this is the time for you to come out from your hiding and state your views and ideas that could improve our current situation”.
He added that “the development of any nation begins from the ballot boxes and that our electoral system must be put right once and for all”.
The former Senate President said “if we can get our electoral process right Nigeria would have been heading towards rapid and massive development”.
The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the federation, Abubakar Malami who was represented by his Special Adviser on Public Prosecution, Chief Okoi Obono Obla recalled that the committee was set up to take a holistic look at the Constitution and the Electoral Reforms.
The Executive he said is doing everything possible toward improving our electoral system in Nigeria.
He called on stakeholders not to shy away but make good use of the public hearing to proffer ideas and views on how to review the constitution and electoral reforms.
Also speaking, the state governor Senator Ben Ayade who was represented by his deputy Prof. Ivara Isu, said political decampees should be punishable and should be included in the electoral reforms. There should be a stiff penalty against political decampees.
He suggested the return to only two political parties as presently there are too many registered parry.
Earlier, most of the speakers at the public hearing had called for the scrapping state INEC and allow the national INEC should stand.
They also suggested for the adoption of Option A4 as it were during the Ibrahim Babangida regime, abolition of collection centres, establishment of special courts for election cases as well as seeing electoral fraud as a very serious offence.
Other issues raised includes time to end tribunal matters, acceptance of smart card reading during elections as well as to define who is a political leader in the state or local and ward levels.
Participants were drawn from political parties, communities, academia, government officials and civil organisations among others.