By Udora Orizu in Abuja
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked Nigerians to hold successive governments and the leadership of the National Assembly responsible for the “patently unlawful postponement of the 2019 general elections” initially scheduled to hold on February 16, but now shifted on February 23.
In a statement signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “The postponement of Nigeria’s elections since 2007 shows a systemic failure of leadership at the highest level of government, and suggests that our electoral process is deliberately skewed in favour of politicians’ interests, who continue to profit from the corruption and impunity that have characterised the process since 1999, and against those of the citizens.
“Given the increasing tendency to postpone elections and the cumulative failures and corruption over the years, SERAP would, after the elections, pursue appropriate legal action against the government in power and the National Assembly leadership for the catalogue of breaches of constitutional and international obligations, and seek effective remedies for the citizens.
“Calling for the resignation of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, rather than addressing the root causes of persistent postponement of elections is a blatant attempt by politicians to scapegoat the electoral commission.”
According to SERAP, “While the INEC leadership ought to proactively push for reform of the electoral system, successive governments and leadership of the National Assembly that have the legal responsibility but have remained largely impervious to revolutionary change of the electoral system, should be held to account for this fundamental breach of public trust.
“Foisting outdated electoral system on Nigerians, and spending huge public funds to sustain it, seems in uneasy tension with constitutional provisions and Nigeria’s international obligations including under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance to which Nigeria is a state party.
“Rather than prioritising genuine and comprehensive reforms of the electoral system that would upgrade and modernise our voting processes, successive governments and leadership of the National Assembly would seem to prefer the status quo, presumably to undermine citizens’ right to participation and to continue to profit from the corruption and impunity that the current system and processes breed.”
SERAP also noted that postponement of general election has become a recurring feature of the country’s electoral process.