By John Ikani
As campaigns for electoral reforms intensify, the Chairman of the Nigerian Young Professional Forum NYPF, Moses Siasia has called for progressive change in the modus operandi of political parties and mindset of the electorates.
He made the call on Sunday in Abuja while speaking at an electoral reform summit organized by Ready to Lead Africa with the theme: Attaining Credible Electoral Legacy and hashtags #Honorjune12, #PassElectoralReforms.
Mr Siasia, a former Governorship Candidate in Bayelsa State bemoaned the worsening trend of what he described as ‘political bazaar’ coordinated by political parties, adding that the electorates have recklessly normalised selling their constitutional franchise.
According to him, the ugly development portends a bleak future for the nation even when the electoral reform bill is passed.
“We need electoral reforms in Nigeria and it needs to start with political parties because they see polls as opportunities to make money.
“Asides political parties, the mindsets of electorates need reformations. We have a large number of people who are not educated, a large number of people who are not informed, they are not enlightened. They believe in handouts!
“It is what I call ‘political bazaar’ and it happened in 2015 before my eyes at Bayelsa State where I saw people collecting #5000, #2000 to sell their constitutional franchise. My concern is even when the electoral reform bill is passed, what about the people?
“There is now a culture that if you don’t have money you are going no where. It’s sad that politicians have mastered the trade of manipulating the sense of reasoning of Nigerians,” he lamented.
Mr Siasia therefore urged Nigerians to support credible young people who are vying for political offices.
“We need to support young people, credible young people who are vying for political offices. For example, I lead the Nigerian Young Professional Forum NYPF. We identified young people at state level, trained them and supported them. Some of them are members of State House of Assemblies. We also identified people across geo-political zones and supported them. Some of them are now National Assembly members.
“Today as we speak, we have members at the National Assembly. At the State level we have members. The number is increasing. In 2023, I’m going to make sure as the chairman, a critical number of young people are supported to go into political offices because this is the surest way we can bring about the change we need.”
While tasking Nigerians on dedicating time to study electoral bill and engage with political actors, Mr Siasia stressed the need for orientation programmes with a view to repositioning the mindsets of the electorate.
“There is also the need to carry out orientation programmes. That’s what I’m doing now in Bayelsa. I’m trying to re-orientate the minds of people. We need to orientate and sensistize them!”
What you should know
After two decades of uninterrupted civil rule in Nigeria, the many aspects of the nation’s electoral process yearning for reviews and reforms are left unattended to.
The report of the amendment to the Electoral Act 2010 after more than two months of being laid before the House of Representatives, as reported in the Punch newspaper publication of 16th May 2021, is yet to be considered by the eminent members of the hallowed green chamber.
However, It is gratifying to note that there is a ray of hope as the Senate President, Dr Ahmed Lawan, promised to assiduously work on the bill after the Sallah break with the belief that the House of Representatives will follow suit, thereafter ensuring the onward transmission to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for his assent. Then, it becomes an Act.
About Ready To Lead Africa #Honorjune12, #PassElectoralReforms Summits
The electoral reform summit held at Transcorp Hilton Abuja FCT on Sunday brought together stakeholders from the political, civic, traditional, development, diplomatic and academic space to discuss and analyse the impact of the June 12 legacy on Nigeria and the expected gains Nigerians stand to benefit once electoral reform is achieved.
The end goals of the summits – which will also hold at Five Cowries Terminal Falomo Lagos on June 20th 6pm GMT – is to have all the key stakeholders send a Unified message to the leadership of the 9th national assembly to pass the electoral amendment bill 2020 without delay.
Also present at the summit were the Minister of State for education represented by Engr Adewale Adenike, Anti-corruption activist, Hamzat Lawal as well as former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigerian and 2023 presidential hopeful – Kingsley Moghalu, among others.