Dr. Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan, the former President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria
Former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Ebele Goodluck Jonathan has called on the African Union and the continent’s sub-regional organisations to come to the aid of African nations whose scheduled major elections risk being shifted, as a means of avoiding political and constitutional crises on the continent of Africa. The continent is known to parade some of the world’s most ‘useless’ politicians who indulge in all sorts of malpractices including killing their citizens and manipulating the judiciary to win election.
As a matter of fact, the last elections in Nigeria ousted Jonathan himself to usher in the incumbent, Mohammad Buhari and the subsequent one that held in 2019 for Buhari’s second term were fraught with visible malpractices including under-aged child voters especially in Northern Nigeria. Aside that, there is hardly any elections held in Nigeria and so many other African countries that can be said to meet international election best practices. In Nigeria, just like most other African countries, the umpire is usually appointed by the President and so, must do the bidding of the president that appointed them into office.
The former President of Nigeria who was a victim of rigged election noted that many African nations that may not be able to organise periodic elections because of coronavirus- imposed difficulty are already walking a tight rope, adding that those nations need the support of continental and sub-regional bodies as they seek stakeholders’ compromise on new options.
Dr. Jonathan made the call at a webinar organised by the Kofi Annan Foundation last weekend. In West Africa, Presidential elections are due to hold in the last quarter of this year in at least five countries including Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Burkina Faso but there are doubts whether the elections will hold on schedule because of the effect of Covid-19 pandemic. Some of the elections that were also supposed to hold in some states in Nigeria were also put on hold.
He said postponing presidential elections beyond constitutionally allowed limits could trigger citizen distrust and increase political tensions in many nations, the former President stated that a negotiated settlement is required to avoid crises. “That is why I am suggesting that the AU and subcontinental bodies in Africa should begin now to warm up. They should start engaging those nations that have elections between now and September this year.”
According to him, “Elections per se does not constitute a democracy. The credibility of elections, the transparency of the processes and the issue of trust from the citizens are key indicators of a functional democracy. This is the time that many continental bodies should come up with their own minimum standards for any country going into election to operate. Otherwise, people who ordinarily would have loved to be dictators will now exploit the problem of the COVID-19 pandemic and do what is not in line with the laws of the land.”
The former President added, “One thing that is clear especially in Africa is that we must adopt electronic voting. This covid-19 pandemic has provided an opportunity and the need for Africa parliaments to take another look at the need to retool our electoral laws to bring an end to the analogue and manual voting methods, which have now become problematic for the continent’s fragile democracies. For democracy to be acceptable, elections must be credible; the process must be transparent, and observers must participate especially for presidential elections.”