The Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, on Wednesday criticised the composition of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Electoral Reform Committee, saying its chairman, Ken Nnamani, is not fit and credible to head the committee.
Mr. Fayose stated this position on Wednesday at the south-west zonal public hearing the committee held at the June 12 Cultural Centre, Abeokuta.
President Buhari set up the committee last year to prescribe amendments necessary for strengthening Nigeria’s electoral process, and appointed Mr. Nnamani, a former senate president, as its head.
But Mr. Fayose said Mr. Nnamani is a south-east regional leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and would therefore be partisan in his role.
Prior to his appointment, Mr. Nnamani was a member of the Peoples Democratic Party on whose platform he had been elected to the Senate between 2003 and 2007. He has since last year defected to the ruling APC.
“If this government is actually serious about electoral reform, then the chairman of this committee should resign and allow an independent person to take over,” the governor said.
“Nnamani is a South-East regional leader of APC, and hence incapable of rising above primordial and party sentiments to give us anything different from electoral inclusiveness that we have at the moment”, the governor charged.
Mr. Fayose, in a three-page speech, said the electoral review body was not needed until it is “equitable, apolitical and devoid of influence from the powers that be”, stressing that “he who comes to equity must come with clean hands”.
The governor who was represented at the hearing by Samuel Omotoso, Chairman of Ekiti State House of Assembly Committee on Information, said he has no objection to reviewing and reforming the electoral process but decried the lack of “sincerity of purpose deployed each time we display such political hallucinations under the guise of reforms”.
“This has amounted severally to playing to the gallery and this committee just like others that have embarked on several wild goose chases in the past is not likely to be different”, he said.
He argued that the only time Nigeria made an attempt at a reliable electoral reform was during the tenure of late President Umaru Yar’adua who appointed retired Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mohammed Uwais, as the chairman of the reform committee.
“This singular move gave the panel credibility, widespread acceptability and massive support from all over the country and across political divides” Mr. Fayose stated.
He, however, observed that such could not be said of the current panel he said has “massive moral burden and conflict of interest as a result of the Chairman being a card carrying member of a political party called APC”.
Mr. Fayose also accused the police of bias in the electoral process, saying that the establishment has allowed itself to be used for the selfish interest of those in power.
“We all know those who commit crimes during the elections but this same people are protected using the police, which is supposed to ensure orderliness and legal consequences for electoral infractions.
“The police would rather arrest and prosecute the victims of electoral malpractice and violence while releasing the actual aggressors due to the relationship of these offenders to the government in power”, he added.
However, in his response, Mr. Nnamani declared that there was nothing to be afraid of by the governor as the committee’s report would still pass through the presidency and the National Assembly, which has members drawn from different political parties.
“It does not make sense to say that because I am no longer a member of the PDP that I will compromise. Six months ago, I was with PDP and then nobody is talking about being compromised. Now I am in APC and the story is changing”, he said.
“Does it mean I don’t have the fundamental right to belong to any association, which the Governor of Ekiti State is trying to infringe upon?” Mr. Nnamani queried.