From John Shiklam in Kaduna
Chairman of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and former Inspector General of Police (IGP), Alhaji Ibrahim Ahmadu Coomassie, on Monday, said that Nigeria’s democratic process in the past 16 years had been characterized by impunity, disregard for service delivery and high levels of corruption.
He therefore called on President Mohammadu Buhari to take adequate steps to reform the political process to avoid a situation where funds meant for government projects and service delivery are spent on political campaigns.
Commassie, who spoke yesterday at a conference on “Deepening Democracy through Elections in Nigeria” organized by the Political Science and International Studies, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, also called for reforms in the judicial process.
He noted that the 2015 general elections was the most expensive in the history of elections in Nigeria, stressing that it was unfortunate that a huge amount of money earmarked for certain governmental projects were illegally diverted and channeled towards the electoral victory of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“From one source alone, a staggering $2.1billion earmarked for procurement of arms to fight insurgency in the North-east was diverted to secure the electoral victory of the PDP
“Indicators suggest that most government agencies and departments were forced to cough out funds to aid in the electoral victory of the PDP, making it the most expensive election in the nation’s history.
“Now that we have a new government in place, which campaigned for and won because it promised change and is therefore amenable for the reform of the whole political processes, we must avail ourselves with the opportunity to make far-reaching reforms that will safeguard this democracy” he said.
He added that this is one of the many steps that will help sanitize not only the electoral process, but reduce the abuse of office that have become the hallmark of elected public office holders in Nigeria.
He said; ” From 1999 to date, the democratic process had been characterized by impunity, disregard for service delivery and high level of corruption.
“Similarly, the Buhari administration should as soon as possible initiate a major reform of the judicial processes in Nigeria. Nigeria inherited the judicial system from the British at independence and since then, it has undergone minimal reforms”
He also lamented the prolong and unnecessary delays in the law courts , saying prosecution of criminal offenders suffer great frustrations,” especially when serious cases before our eminent jurists get thrown out on simple technicalities.”
He added that “Strict penalties should be introduced for all electoral offences. After more than 50 years as an independent nation, and after several tries at the democratic governance, Nigeria must once and for all get her acts together”.
According to him, after 17 years of uninterrupted civil rule, Nigeria’s democracy can no longer be described as an experiment, maintaining that “we must strive to consolidate this gain by not only making sure that our electoral processes are fool proof, but that attempt to tamper with them will meet the full wrath of the law.”
In his remarks , the Vice Chancellor ABU, Zaria, Prof. Ibrahim Garba said academia must continue to play its role of reshaping public discuss through conferences .
He said political scientists have the duty to examine and analyze the fierce struggles leading to primitive accumulation of wealth, by crooks that have resulted in contemporary class conflicts, ethnic violence as well as the present phase of insurgency which is threatening national security.