Election sequence: ‘NASS intervention is a distraction’

OrderPaperToday – The Director of the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Idayat Hassan, has described the National Assembly’s reordering of the 2019 general elections schedule as a “distraction.”

According to Idayat, the arrangement will “upset” the Independent National Electoral Commission’s already published timetable for next year’s elections.

It should be recalled that on the 6th of February, the Conference Committee of the National Assembly in amending the Electoral Act (2010) adopted the green chamber’s version, which placed the National Assembly’s election before the Presidential poll.

The Director of the CDD criticised the Federal Legislature’s actions during an event organised by the Centre, tagged “Three Decades of Democratic Transition in Africa” which held in Abuja.

Speaking to journalists, she said: “I think that would not actually help the planning of INEC who have already released a timetable. At times, we should not upset the system. If you would also recollect in the 2010 amendment, there was an attempt to do this but at the court, it was quashed.

“Revisiting it is a distraction and it is something that is not welcomed for a process that we have been planning for, more than 400 days to the election.”

Speaking on the CDD event, she said it is aimed at evaluating the evolution of democracy and its impact in the past 30 years.

She said: “The idea behind this event is to look at how democracy is actually evolving on the continent and this is actually very instructive, if you look at the fact that democracy is taking three important trends on the continent.

“There are countries that are actually striving to be a thorough democracy and, in the same vein, there are countries operating a hybrid system. They are democratic when it suits them and when it doesn’t suit them, they become authoritarian.

“You see what is happening in Kenya at the moment? Many countries in the continent are actually like that and, of course, there are the ones that are authoritarian in nature, using elections to legitimize themselves.

“It is actually urgent and imperative we have a rethink. I mean we are talking about 30 years plus, almost 31 years since the wave of democracy and multiparty democracy swept across Africa. How has it impacted the people beyond elections? It is also important.

“Is it that it has actually improved the poverty level? Is it that inclusion of women, young people and persons with disabilities has improved within this period? So there are very big issues beyond the issues of economic growth that we must deal with. There is also a need for us to rethink the whole system of democracy.”

Idayat also decried the hybrid system of democracy practised in the country.

She said: “I think we are practising a hybrid system. We practise democracy but when it becomes necessary, we become authoritarian because when you look at the level of press freedom in Nigeria in the past two years, it has not been commendable.

“When you also look at social media monitoring request from Google, Facebook on accounts of citizens you find that Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt topped the list. In fact, it is a fact to see that we are a hybrid system.”

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Author: Titilope Fadare