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    Removing Iwu is just the beginning – Soyinka, Kalu, others

    Maurice Iwu
    Even as Nigerians continue to applaud the removal of Maurice Iwu as chairman of the Independent National
    Electoral Commission (INEC), Acting President Goodluck Jonathan has been told that bigger challenges lie ahead in the quest to restore credibility to the electoral process.
    “We have always said that the system is very important, very fundamental and also those who operate the system must be held culpable any time there is a flaw in the system to deliver to the nation. The little irritant, which however was a very big one has been removed, but we are still being confronted with the major issue, which is the adoption of the Justice Mohammed Uwais reform. That is the crucial thing,” said Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka yesterday in Lagos.

    “That is just the beginning of the response to our cry. Some things have been contaminated. There are various contracts that Iwu had embarked upon to rush through before he leaves. They should suspend all those contracts. There is the integrity of the voters register, the register is a fraud.
    “I am going to write a petition to the acting president. If he wants this country to move forward, he has to scrap the voters register. You have to scrap it and start afresh because what we have right now is a fraud. If you plant a corn, you don’t expect to reap pineapple. The data base of which the registry is housed is a fraud,” Soyinka said.
    Orji Kale

    While various groups were recommending the way forward for the administration, Iwu himself was at Aso Rock, seat of the presidency, yesterday to see Mike Oghiadomhe, the acting president’s principal secretary in a meeting that lasted less than 10 minutes. The former electoral umpire refused to speak with journalists on leaving the State House. To the Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN), the composition of the new INEC and the process of appointing a new chairman are critical to the independence of the chairman and of INEC as an institution. “The recommendations of the Uwais Panel on the modus of appointment of the INEC chairman must be implemented. The decision of the National Assembly to retain the old arrangement that centralises the power to appoint the INEC chairman on the president is self-serving and unacceptable,” Okechukwu Nwanguma, program coordinator of the group stated.
    Wole Soyinka

    “The next critical step that must be taken to ensure credible elections in Nigeria is to hasten the reform of the Nigerian Police Force through training, reorientation, enhancing morale and operational capabilities to enable the police effectively and impartially police elections,” NOPRIN stated. Also yesterday, the Lagos State House of Assembly welcomed the removal of Iwu but warned that `pPoliticians should caution themselves by not making election `a do or die affair’ because they contributed a lot to the problem of election rigging.”
    Former Abia State governor, Orji Uzor Kalu, echoed the views of Lagos lawmakers, stating that “Iwu is not the problem, but politicians.” “If Nigerians insist that election rigging should stop, it will stop. It happened in Ghana, Sierra Leone, Kenya, and they stopped it. Why not in Nigeria?” he said.
    On his part, the national secretary, Progressive People’s Alliance (PPA), Dahiru Abdullahi, called for a legal framework that will enable whoever is selected as the next INEC boss to deliver the best to the nation. A first republic minister of aviation, Mbazuruike Amaechi, called on the Federal Government to carry out a complete reorganisation of INEC.
    “The problem with INEC has to do with unquantifiable level of corruption, stealing, election rigging and falsification of result.
    “For instance, the small ballot boxes you see around that should not cost more than N600 in the market was contracted out at the cost of N20,000 each, multiply it by the number of pulling booths.
    “So you can now imagine how much would have been spent on ballot papers and other materials. There’s so much corruption in INEC,” Amaechi said.

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