CODER to Buhari: Let’s celebrate 20yrs of uninterrupted democratic rule

THE Coalition of Democrats for Electoral Reforms (CODER), an election monitoring group, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to put in motion arrangements necessary to enable Nigerians to use the occasion of the swearing-in of elected officials scheduled to hold on May 29 to also celebrate 20 years of uninterrupted democratic rule in the country.

Executive Director/Chair, Transition Committee of CODER, Dr Wunmi Bewaji, made the call at a press conference he addressed in Lagos, saying despite the shortcomings witnessed during the last election, it was imperative for Nigerians to celebrate themselves despite such challenges as it was the longest democratic rule Nigeria ever witnessed since it’s Independence in 1960.

According to him, the celebration should include the voters, all the security personnel, the electoral umpire and all those that contributed to the success story so far.

While urging Mr President to utilise the coming May 29 not just for swearing in of elected officials but to deliberately and wholeheartedly celebrate the joyous occasion of the 20th anniversary of the uninterrupted democracy in Nigeria, Bewaji declared that the occasion should be considered a milestone even though not perfect.

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“Let us celebrate ourselves. The voters, the Army, our security agencies, INEC and all who have contributed to the success story so far. Though not perfect yet, 20 years is a milestone. Let’s roll out the drums and celebrate our democracy with Mr President cutting a giant 20 years anniversary cake,” he said.

Speaking on the last elections, the CODER chief, who is a former leader of Alliance for Democracy (AD), House of Representatives, declared the exercise as relatively free, fair and credible, adding: “It is CODER’s firm verdict that the 2019 general elections were relatively free, fair and credible.”

However, Bewaji said it was equally observed that the conduct of the exercise was attended by poor human resource, indicating INEC’s failure to develop and enhance its human capital resource, among others.

“The said elections were observed by CODER’s field observers as well as volunteer observers throughout the 36 states, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, and our findings, observation and recommendations upon a critical and thorough analysis of the data presented by our field observers shows poor human resource, which indicated INEC’s failure to develop and enhance its human capital, the umpire’s gradual degeneration into a grandiose/obsolete moribund bureaucracy with no appetite for growth and innovation, poor logistics, inconclusive elections, postponements and others,” he said.

According to Bewaji, this has led CODER to “recommend that the commission needs to retrain, retool and reinvent itself to be able to meet the growing challenges posed by population explosion for it to be able to perform its task as a 21st century electoral body whereas it must also move from its archaic culture to technology-based operations, saying electronic voting is imperative so as to cope with the growing population and the huge challenges likely to pose to future elections.”

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