Prof. Attahiru Jega, Department of Political Science, Bayero University, Kano, on Tuesday cautioned the electorate against voting for candidates with questionable characters during the forthcoming general elections.
Jega, the former Chairman of INEC, gave the advice in his keynote address titled, `Toward Free, Fair and Credible 2023 General Elections’, at a public sensitisation organised the Abuja National Mosque Da’awah and Welfare Foundation.
He said that democracy was hinged on citizens’ participation in elections, who in an enlightened manner, elect their trusted representatives in the legislative and governance institutions.
Jega said the key messages to the populace are, “if you are eligible, ensure to register to vote, obtain your PVCs, know how to vote, go and vote on election day, vote properly and appropriately.
He said: “Even more significantly, vote your conscience! Do not let monetary or material inducements sway you to vote for a criminal, selfish and greedy people.
“We should also desist from voting for anti-people and narrow-minded contestants, when there are decent, selfless, responsible, pro-people, visionary candidates.
“The more enlightened voters we have going on election day to vote their conscience and make informed choices, the more choices, the better the quality of elected representatives will be.
“And the more likely the prospect of having good governance that will address people’s needs and aspirations while securing them and protecting their human dignity.”
Jega, who said that the 2023 general elections were the most consequential elections to be held globally, emphasised the need for all hands to be on deck to ensure that the country conducts free, fair and credible elections.
He added:’ “All responsible and respectable stakeholders, need to engage actively and contribute to a better and desirable outcome.
“This is the only way to ensure quality representation, peaceful co-existence, progress and socioeconomic development in our country.”
In a paper presentation, the Secretary-General, Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), Prof. Khalid Abubakar, urged religious and traditional leaders to engage positively during their weekly sermons, the political gladiators and the electorate on the benefits of violence-free elections.
Abubakar, in a paper titled, “the Role of Religious leaders and Traditional Rulers in Ensuring free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria,” emphasised the need for political, religious and youth leaders to champion the cause of peace building.
The cleric also stressed the need for religious leaders and traditional rulers to collaborate with other relevant bodies to ensure that the nation’s system of education focuses on promoting tolerance right from the formative years.
Also, the Special Adviser to the Chairman of INEC, Mohammed Kuna, said strides were being made to ensure that the electoral eco-system was credible, accountable, transparent and responsive to thestakeholders’ needs.
He said: “This can be seen in the various measures and processes the commission has put in place from the management of the voting process, management of the production and securing of balloting instrument.
“Also the training and growing professionalizlsation of staffers as well as efforts at expanding the participation of citizens in the electoral and political processes.
“Indeed, in the planning for the 2023 general elections that started over two years ago, the commission articulated as one of its cardinal objectives, the conduct of free, fair, credible and inclusive elections.”