By Dirisu Yakubu, ABUJA
Former President, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has called for the strengthening of the nation’s electoral laws to restore the integrity of the ballot.
This is even as Dr Jonathan argued 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.
The former President stated this, Monday in an interaction with newsmen during a visit to TOSTV Network studios in Abuja.
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.”
Dr 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 continued: “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 the 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 impact of monetary incentives to buy the support of electoral officials and security personnel.
Dr Jonathan further called for a review of the local government system to enable it to function optimally as obtained in developed countries of the world.