FORMER president Dr Goodluck Jonathan has called for the changing of Nigeria’s electoral laws so courts can no longer determine the winners of elections as is currently the case that has resulted in governors getting elected on the basis of legal technicalities.
In several states, particularly Imo and Bayelsa, candidates who lost the elections were declared winners by the courts on the basis of technicalities that enabled the courts to overturn the mandates of the winners. Pointing out that this is not right, Dr Jonathan stressed that the standard practice is that the electoral management bodies exercise the sole responsibility of returning candidates and declaring winners.
He added that all the judiciary does is compliment this process by either upholding declared results or nullifying flawed elections and ordering a rerun. In Imo State for instance, the Supreme Court declared Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress as the winner of the March 9, 2020 governorship election in the state despite him coming fourth in the polls.
Dr Jonathan said: “I had already made a public statement on that to the effect that the ballot paper and not the judiciary should determine who wins elections or select political leaders. The ballot paper should be the only basis for selecting political leaders.”
In addition, Dr Jonathan pointed out that countries that conduct free and fair elections experience less election-related litigations. He added that numerous court cases following elections are the hallmark of fragile democracies.
“I have said this before and I will always repeat it, I am not saying the judiciary is not doing well but my point is that our laws should suppress the issue of the judiciary returning candidates. If a candidate is declared winner after a flawed electoral process, what the courts can do is to annul the election and order a fresh one, where a winner will finally emerge through the ballot.
“The ballot paper should decide who holds any elective office from the councillorship to the presidency. That is democracy,” Dr Jonathan added.
In addition, Dr Jonathan frowned at the negative way money is deployed in inducing the electorate, officials and security operatives across Nigeria. Dr Jonathan lost his re-election bid in 2015 where the incumbent, President Muhammadu Buhari emerged victorious and has since been celebrated globally for conceding defeat.
In addition, Dr Jonathan also lamented the weakness of governance at local government level, the third tier of government, particularly in the exercising of its autonomy and its capacity to manage development issues. He therefore, highlighted the need to review the local government system to enable the tier of government perform better in delivering democracy dividends to the people.