The former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof Attahiru Jega, in an interview as the nation, celebrates its 60th Independence Day Anniversary, he has called upon government officials and Nigerian citizens at large to cut short the celebration and rather reflect on the future of the country.
Prof Jega said that Nigerian politicians are more focused on getting into the office without having a plan for what to do when they do get elected. This, he said led to “lot of wastefulness” of taxpayers’ money.
Jega spoke on Thursday while featuring on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme.
He said, “Nigeria has come a long way in the last 60 years but it is so much important not to be in a celebratory mood but to use this period as a period of reflection and contemplation as to what we want Nigeria to be in the next 60 years.
“Obviously, there are lots of challenges and these challenges need to be addressed.”
The former INEC chairman said Nigeria got where it is now because of bad leadership and poor governance.
“We got here regrettably because our country has been bedevilled by bad leadership and poor governance. When we examine the institutional framework and the personality framework of those that have occupied governance, it will seem that a lot of attention has been devoted to getting into power without adequate preparation in terms of what to do when you get into power.
“Therefore, there has been a lot of wastefulness in this country, there has been a lot of misplacement of priorities in this country,” he added.
Jega stressed that democracy cannot be built without democrats, lamenting that most Nigerian politicians are not democrats but desperate people whose mindset is to win elections by “hook or by crook.”
He urged politicians to change their attitudinal disposition to the electoral process, saying, “Most of the challenges that we face in the electoral process in this country are human-induced. In fact, to even be more specific, they are rarely problems and challenges created by politicians whose mindset is not democratic and whose mindset is to win elections by hook or by crook.
“Obviously, there are other challenges with regards to strengthening the gap in terms of non-capacity within the institutions that conduct elections whether at the state level or at the federal level.
“There have been positive incremental changes in terms of improving the capacity of the Independent National Electoral Commission to be able to conduct elections.
“Still, a lot needs to be done but the major challenge is the attitude and the disposition of the so-called politicians both in the political and in the electoral processes.”
Continuing, he noted, “There is the need for fundamental reforms in the values and orientations of those in governance. Obviously, the values of selflessness, of public service, rather than self-service, have been remarkably eroded in the last 60 years in the environment of governance and there have to be fundamental reforms that can revive these values.”
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