The Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, has stated that “if we get elections right at the local government level, we have a better chance of getting elections right at all levels”.
Speaking at the second National Conference of the Independent National Electoral Commission and the state Independent Electoral Commissions held in Ilorin, Kwara state capital on Thursday, Jega added that by conducting credible local government elections, SIEC would provide the basic building blocks of democratic growth in Nigeria.
He said local government elections are holding in quick succession from one state to another stressing the need to be well prepared, to learn from the experience of one another, both the positive ones and the not so positive ones.
He said: “Elections are major projects, even at the local level. The logistical demands are enormous and more so is the high expectation of candidates and the electorate. Between 1999 and 2012, hypothetically the 37 election management bodies in Nigeria ought to have conducted almost 450 elections, with INEC condition 16 and SIECs conducting about 432.! This represents enormous experience in election management from which we can all learn. Local government elections are becoming as controversial as national elections in Nigeria presently. They therefore merit greater attention and reflection by those who the country has faith in to midwife a strong democratic system based on a credible electoral process.
In our deliberations, I implore us to be open and frank. It is only by so doing that we can understand each other, learn from each other and support each other. We must be courageous enough to accept our shortcomings and not to make excuse. But at the same time, we should not be too modest not to celebrate our successes. Most importantly, however, we must be open to new ideas and to new methods. That is the only way to minimize our shortcomings and consolidate our gains.”