From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Members of the committee set up by President Muhammadu Buhari last year to review the electoral system in Nigeria have expressed concern over the handling of their welfare and their report.
Due to the complained lapses, the members said “we have been used and dumped with our report.”
The Committee expressed fears that its report may be dumped like those of similar reports on electoral reforms in the past.
The Committee led by a former Senate President, Ken Nnamani was set up by the federal government last October “to review the electoral environment, laws and experiences from recent elections conducted in Nigeria and make recommendations to strengthen and achieve the conduct of free and fair elections in Nigeria.”
While inaugurating the committee on October 4, 2016, the Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami (SAN), said that he was undertaking the assignment on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari who, he said, had affirmed a desire to deepen the country’s democracy and entrench the culture of an enduring electoral system.
He also decried some recent judicial decisions, which he said gave clear signals that the electoral system needed urgent re-jig, and that at the end of the day, the committee is expected to come up with possible amendments to the constitution and Electoral Act which would enhance the robustness of the Nigerian system.
The committee, according to its mandate, was to deliver its report in ten weeks as directed by Minister of Justice but the failure of government to release fund for its operations led to the delay in submitting its report.
“We have been used and dumped. The government has not paid a kobo for the work we did and which we submitted over two months ago”, a member confided to this reporter on condition of anonymity.
The chairman of the committee, Senator Nnamani expressed the same concern while submitting the report of the committee to the Minister for Justice on May 2.
He said the work of the committee was delayed because government did not release the funds necessary for its operations adding that the committee had to fall back on some international donors like the DFID and NDI for financial assistance to perform the assignment.
Responding to a reporter’s question on why the committee members have not been paid for the committees work at a press conference two weeks ago, the minister said the approval for their payment had been secured and if the members were not paid as at the time he was talking to the press, they would soon be paid.