Nigerians need competent and assertive leaders and not necessarily strong leaders, the former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Attahiru Jega, has said.
Mr Jega made this assertion on Monday, at the 58th Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association.
Addressing the audience, Mr Jega said an incompetent leader who is strong will end up destroying institutions.
According to him “What we require most are the competence and capacity of leaders to take decisions and be assertive in ensuring that those decisions are actually implemented. So, we have to be very careful in thinking that a strong leader can really help.
“Just like a weak leader can wreck an institution, a strong leader, who has just that power and courage, but lacks the capacity, ability and competence to lead, can also wreck strong institutions.
“Competence of leadership is a very important variable in bringing about the stable political transition, good governance and deepening of democracy.”
The former INEC boss, who superintended the 2011 and 2015 general elections, said politicians must stop treating elections as a do-or-die affair.
He recalled that a former president once said elections must be do-or-die, an incident he described as most unfortunate.
“We must emphasise professionalism, impartiality and non-partisanship. This is because quite too often, you have good and strong institutions, but once partisanship is introduced and partiality become the norm, as many public institutions in this country, then those institutions would not be able to deliver effectively on their mandates”.
According to Mr Jega, there was a need for law enforcement agencies and the judiciary to live up to their responsibilities. He said he integrity of the electoral process must be preserved and protected.
Mr Jega said Integrity is the key to stable political transition.
“From my experience, I am convinced that electoral integrity is key to stable political transition and to ensuring that there is a framework for good governance and societal development. Electoral integrity is not just about the integrity of the election management body. It is also the integrity with which the key stakeholders engage with the electoral process”.
Similarly, a former Head of State, Abdulsalami Abubakar, in his remarks decried that elections in Africa are always characterised by violence.
Mr Abubakar added that even the recently concluded NBA election was not without its own controversies.
“The genesis of Africa’s political problems is the action of sit-tight leaders who do all they can to amend the constitutions in order to perpetuate themselves forever. These leaders manipulate very vital democratic organs particularly the legislature and even judiciary to suppress any dissenting voice,” he said.