Former President Goodluck Jonathan has called for the strengthening of the nation’s electoral laws in a way that only the ballot paper, and not the courts, is allowed to determine the winners of elections.
The former President stressed that the standard practice is that the electoral management bodies exercise the sole responsibility of returning candidates and declaring winners while the judiciary complements by either upholding declared results or nullifying flawed elections and ordering a rerun.
He said: “I had already made a public statement on that to the effect that the ballot paper and not the judiciary should determine who wins elections or select political leaders. The ballot paper should be the only basis for selecting political leaders.”
Several cases involving electoral contests between parties in Nigeria in the past have been eventually decided by the courts despite of the outcomes of such elections.
The apex court then declared Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the March 9, 2020 governorship election in the state.
Meanwhile, Mr Jonathan further noted that countries that conduct free and fair elections experience less election-related litigations while numerous court cases following elections are the hallmark of fragile democracies.
He said further: “I have said this before and I will always repeat it. I am not saying the judiciary is not doing well. But my point is that our laws should suppress the issue of the judiciary returning candidates. If a candidate is declared winner after a flawed electoral process, what the courts can do is to annul the election and order a fresh one, where a winner will finally emerge through the ballot. The ballot paper should decide who holds any elective office from the councillorship to the presidency. That is democracy.”
The former President who also admitted that some funds might be needed in elections, especially in the area of logistics during campaigns, however, frowned at the negative way money is deployed in inducing the electorate, officials and security operatives.
Mr Jonathan also pointed out the weakness of governance at local government level which is the third tier of government, particularly in the exercise of its autonomy and its capacity to manage development issues.
He therefore, highlighted the need to review the local government system to enable the tier of government perform better in delivering democracy dividends to the people.
Mr Jonathan lost his re-election bid in 2015 in a keenly contested polls where the incumbent, President Muhammadu Buhari emerged victorious.
He has since been celebrated globally for conceding defeat during the said polls even before the official tally was done