GOODLUCK JONATHAN SPEAKS ON ELECTORAL REFORMS, ELECTRONIC TRANSMISSION OF RESULTS


**Says Progress Achieved by INEC in the application of New Technology in the conduct of elections should not be reversed

By: Kingsley Omonobi – Abuja.

Former President, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has disclosed that for Nigeria’s democracy to be enduring and sustainable, the application of e-voting and transmission of results electronically is the way to go, “if we truly desire to secure the credibility and integrity of our elections”.

He said, “If we truly desire to deepen the roots of democracy in our land, we should not seek to reverse the progress already recorded by INEC in the application of modern tools in the conduct of elections but aim to improve the processes in the light of new technology”.

Delivering the Inaugural Lecture of Course 30, National Defence College, titled, ‘Human Security and National Development: The Whole Society Approach’ on Wednesday, the former President said, “It is difficult, therefore, to understand why the argument against the possibility of electronic transmission of election results continue subsists, despite all the advancement made in information and communication technology, over the years.

“There is no doubt that the independence of the electoral management body is the key plank upon which a thriving democracy rests. In Nigeria, the agency with the constitutional responsibility for this role is the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

“There is the need for those involved in the ongoing electoral reforms to review their efforts and ask themselves some tough questions. That way, they will be able to determine whether they are advancing the course of democracy by working to enhance and protect the constitutionally guaranteed duties of INEC or seeking to encumber the body with unnecessary posturing, capable of negatively affecting the exercise of its independence, in the conduct of elections.

Addressing issues associated with security challenges plaguing the nation, Jonathan said, “Fear is a key factor in human security and development. Fear is central to human security. It is a painful emotion or passion excited by the expectation of evil or the apprehension of impending danger”.

“Generally fear, to a large extent, determines the level of economic growth in a nation, in almost all sectors. There is indeed a corresponding relation between fear and economic growth.

“Nations, where people live in fear, tend to record the reduced economic activity and less development than others. In many circumstances, the fear factor in human survival, prosperity and security requires that more should be done to restore hope in the people and in their economic wellbeing.

“Farmers who harbour fear about their personal security will be too scared to go to their farm, as is the case in many parts of the country. For an agrarian economy like ours, it is not good news if farmers are abandoning their farms because of fear.

“The economy will generally take a hit if traders and merchants for instance are not confident enough to open for business because of the fear of the menace of state and non-state actors in the field of security.

“If the economic environment and the investment climate are not reassuring enough to an industrialist, he may not venture into building that factory that could provide employment to many youths. Even those already operational risks shutting down if the fear factor in a society is not addressed.

“How about the school environment? Is it safe enough for the pupils, students and their teachers to remain in the classrooms and sustain the education cycle which is the engine of growth and basis for innovation and survival of a nation?

“The same is applicable to places of worship which are responsible for moulding the minds and hearts of members of the society. Are Christian and Muslim faithful free to conduct their worship in an atmosphere devoid of fear?

“The judiciary is normally seen as the last bastion of hope for the people. Do the people believe that they are safe to run to enforcement agents when wronged? Are the litigants confident that they would get justice in court?

“Even the politicians running for office are not spared of this dilemma as their fear, borders on the transparency and integrity of the electoral processes and elections outcomes.

“In climes, where fear still dwells in the minds of politicians over the credibility of electoral processes, governance will continue to suffer distortion and negatively impact the collective destiny of such a nation.

Furthermore, he said, “I will say that the issue of fear constitutes the central focus in human security. My charge to the leaders at NDC is that they should begin to assemble their smart brains to join hands with other key stakeholders towards developing ways of measuring and mitigating fear in our nation.

“I believe that it is not just enough to measure the GDP of states because the element of fear affects the GDP directly. Although it may not exist at the moment, I believe it is important to develop the metrics for measuring fear in our society.

“What are the conditions and situations that people fear most and how do we address those fears?

“If we cannot conduct quantitative models for measuring fear because of its abstract nature, we could at least conduct a qualitative assessment through the use of descriptive sciences like statistics.

On the roles of security agencies, the former President said, “Even as our nation is assailed by multi-faceted security challenges, the patriotism of those in uniform cannot be said to have waned. Thousands of them who are still deployed in different theatres of war have continued to acquit themselves creditably, with many paying the supreme sacrifice while defending the country.

“However, to achieve sustainable peace, the whole society has to be involved in an environment broader than the well-established kinetic space. The whole society approach to security is underpinned in the concept of nation-building as a journey of many miles with different stakeholders having shared responsibilities.

“From the human security perspective, peace is a communal asset and every member of the society must work towards attaining it, preserving it and safeguarding it. This implies that all segments of the society should be driven by patriotism, to work in a concerted manner towards eradicating the threats to peace. This underscores the need for unity of faith and optimism among all stakeholders to address the challenge of insecurity.

“To achieve this, government and other state actors must see citizens as allies and therefore align with their aspirations and work towards winning their trust. This calls for investment in initiatives that would enhance the welfare of citizens. The approach underscores the mutuality of shared responsibilities between the military and civil communities. It is the commitment towards these obligations from all stakeholders that will lead to sustainable peace and development.”

In his address, Commandant of the National Defence College, Rear Admiral Oladele Daji said, “The Inauguration Lecture of the College is an enduring tradition to formally launch the participants into the Course and to admit participants into our culture of excellence. Indeed, with the world and humanity currently experiencing a rise in security challenges, it has become expedient to seek innovative sustainable ways in overcoming these challenges.

“It is in this regard that the study theme for NDC Course 30 is: “Human Security and National Development: The Whole of Society Approach”. The justification lies in the fact human security is associated with issues such as economic security, food security, health security, environmental security, personal security, community security and political security of the citizenry.

“These underpin the consideration of the Topic for this inaugural lecture, to be delivered by our esteemed Guest Speaker, His Excellency, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan GCFR. Before I respectfully invite the Guest Speaker to the podium to deliver his lecture, permit me to say a few words on the purpose and ethos of the National Defence College Nigeria.

Continuing he said, “National Defence College since its establishment in 1992 as the highest tri-service training and research institution has continued to deliver on his core mandate of providing strategic-level training for higher management of defence and research. Over the last 29 years, the College has graduated 2,543 participants from the Higher Defence Management and Strategic Studies Course.

“This figure comprises 2,288 Nigerians as well as 255 officers from other African countries and friendly nations beyond the African continent. The College also offers other stimulating intellectual and professional training programmes which have earned it official recognition from the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Indeed, the Centre for Strategic Research and Studies at the National Defence College Nigeria is the ECOWAS designated Centre of Excellence for strategic level Peace Support Operations (PSO) training.

“Additionally, the College promotes research and strategic level discourse on contemporary and thematic areas of international, regional and national security and development. This is in recognition of the critical nexus between security, peace and development. It is in furtherance of this goal that the College holds the annual Inauguration Lecture where internationally acclaimed political leaders, academics and subject matter experts present their views and experiences on the selected theme.”

Ninety-nine (99) participants from the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Navy, the Nigerian Airforce, the Nigerian Police, Para-military organizations, MDAs as well as officers from 15 foreign countries are participating in the course.

Chief of Defence Staff, General LEO Irabor represented the Minister of Defence, Major Gen Bashir Magashi (rtd) at the occasion.

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