A former Secretary to Abia State Government (SSG) Elder Ralph Egbu, has urged the National Assembly to amend the Electoral Act to include jailing any staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) involved in electoral malpractice for not less than 10 years.
Egbu expressed this view in Umuahia during an Open Forum organized by the Media Chapter of the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International-Nigeria (FGBMFI).
Apart from suggesting that INEC should be professionalized and strip the President of the powers to appoint the chairman of the commission, Egbu added that all staff of the commission should last there based on performance.
“Let every staff stay on performance. Any staff involved in electoral malpractice should be tried by Election Petition Tribunal and, if found guilty, should be liable to a fine of N500, 000 and 10 years imprisonment,” he said.
Egbu, the lead discussant at the Forum with the team: “The Role of Media of Media Practitioners in Ensuring Political Stability in Post-2019 General Elections,” argued that more than five political parties was overwhelming in the current Nigeria polity.
“Nigeria is only ripe for five political parties. Anything beyond that is an invitation to anarchy,” he asserted, advising INEC to deregister all parties that failed to make any meaningful impact in the 2019 general elections.
He opined that INEC failed to get it right by postponing the 2019 general elections from March 3, 2019, the initial day polling would have commenced, describing the development as “an anathema, a huge aberration and an embarrassment.”
“We should know that elections hold in four years and INEC should work towards it,” he contended.
Egbu who has variously served as Commissioner for Information and Chief Press Secretary to Governor Orji Uzor Kalu, also criticized security arrangements for the 2019 polls, pointing out that it was wrong to deploy security personnel to polling stations without arms, arguing that security operatives were not able to effectively check electoral malpractices because they were not armed.
He suggested that winners in elections should release their programmes and timelines immediately after their victory, saying that such a move would reassure the electorate, give them a sense of belonging and what to expect from the incoming administration in order to ensure stability.
He also charged the Media to strive to inculcate the spirit of patriotism and nationalism in politicians, impressing it upon them they that “must give up something for the sake of Nigeria, for the well-being of society, because they must love and see Nigeria as being superior to their existence, cherishing and handling the nation with care.
In his welcome address, President of Media Chapter of FGBMFI, Comrade Ogbonnaya Iheaka, explained that the topic was chosen because in the past, politicians had accused media practitioners of not playing the role of stabilizing the polity after landmark political events, particularly, general elections.
Also contributing, Chairman of the occasion, Enyi Harbour, urged their media to take advantage of its power of influence and opinion moulding to ensure that Nigeria remained stable after the 2019 elections.
In a four-point communiqué issued at the end of the Forum, the media was enjoined to impress it on politicians to embrace inclusive government and discard the winner-takes-all syndrome in the interest of national unity and cohesion.