Attahiru Jega, a former National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, has raised worry ahead of the presidential election, which will take place in less than 20 days.

He claims that the attitude and mindset of politicians who manipulate the security or judicial systems, use race, religion, or other factors to win elections poses a threat to the outcome of the vote.

Jega asserted that despite advancements in election administration, there are still concerns regarding the integrity of elections in the nation due to security, political party management, culture, and infrastructure.

The former INEC head criticized politicians who are only focused on the opportunistic tendencies of winning elections while speaking at a two-day roundtable on the 2023 general elections, organized by the Nigerian Political Science Association, with the theme “Attaining Electoral integrity 2023 General Elections: Pointers to Policy” on Thursday and Friday in Abuja.

He said, “What is very critical both in terms of whether elections have integrity or not is related to the role of the election management body because it is key.

“The role of the security agencies is very important but the aspect of structure, culture and infrastructure, particularly the culture aspect as it relates to the key participants in the elections, which is the politicians or those who manage the political parties.

He added that as political scientists “the electoral integrity framework is something that we really need to address. It is important to know whether you can rely more on the so-called experts and assume that their perspectives are not subjective or whether there are other variables that you need to take into account when you are interrogating electoral integrity.”

The former electoral umpire advised that there is a need to recognise the importance of electoral integrity which is part of democratic development.

“So, we need to really recognise that electoral integrity can only be seen in the context of where gains have been made and whether there are challenges in terms of looking back rather than improving the integrity,” he stated.

However, he cautioned that since citizen action is also a significant issue, there has to be important entities that can help coordinate, sensitize, and encourage citizens to create capacity for the electoral process.

Speaking, the Association’s president, Ibrahim Salihu, outlined the trust difficulties that exist between the public and the government and urged that action be taken to solve the problem of the public viewing the government as the enemy and vice versa.

He said, “The citizens must have to trust the government and the government must have to trust the citizens.”

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