By Salawudeen Olawale
The Senator Ken Nnamani-led Electoral Reform Committee’s maiden public hearing yesterday began in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
Nnamani criticised Ekiti State Governor Ayo Fayose for “engaging in a brand of criticism that does not require intelligence to carry out”.
He added that Fayose’s criticisms lack wisdom and infringed on people’s rights and freedom of association.
The former Senate President spoke during a stakeholder’s forum at the June 12 Cultural Centre, Kuto, Abeokuta.
Fayose had dismissed the committee as a body whose efforts at electoral reform in Nigeria is “dead on arrival”.
The governor, who was represented by a member of the House of Assembly, Idowu Omotoso, had criticised the committee and called on the chairman to resign on the grounds that he was a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
According to Fayose, an independent person should lead the committee.
“If this government is actually serious about electoral reform, then the chairman of this committee should resign and allow an independent person take over.
“Senator Ken Nnamani is a Southeast regional leader of APC and hence incapable of rising above primordial and party sentiments to give us anything different from electoral inconclusiveness that we have at the moment.
“The only time this country made an attempt at reliable Electoral Reform was during the tenure of President Umaru Yar’Adua who appointed retired Chief Justice Mohammed Uwais as the chairman.
“This singular move gave the panel credibility, widespread acceptability and massive supports from all over the country and across political divides,” Fayose said.
The governor identified INEC, the police and other security agencies as the “major problems of Nigeria’s electoral system”.
But the ex-Senate president responding to Fayose’s diatribe, said the governor’s criticism makes no sense since the report of the committee would still be debated by the National Assembly, whose membership consisted of people from various parties.
The APC chieftain questioned Fayose’s representative, wondering if the bills passed at the House of Assembly are for PDP members alone since the party dominated the Assembly.
Nnamani said: “It doesn’t require any intelligence to criticise.
“The governor feels that since Nnamani is no more in PDP, he is going to make sure that the report would favour APC, that doesn’t make sense because the report will still go to Mr President and the National Assembly.
“So far, we don’t have independent candidates in the National Assembly. You don’t go there to talk about the party, it concerns the people, it is the people that will legitimise what we agreed upon here.
“The easier thing to do is to criticise, the guy who represented the governor I wanted him to be here since he said he’s the chairman of a committee, I don’t know if they make rules that the bills they pass is purely for PDP..”
Opening the hearing, Ogun State Governor Ibikunle Amosun said the electoral reform was timely considering the fact that INEC had just released its timetable for the 2019 election.
Amosun challenged the committee to come out with meaningful solutions that would ensure the electoral system conforms with global best practices.