Nigeria’s former President, Dr.Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has called on the ECOWAS Member States to utilize technology in the electoral process to ensure free and fair elections.
He made the call as one of the panelists at the ongoing First Extra-Ordinary Session of the Fifth Legislature of ECOWAS Parliament, holding in Monrovia the capital city of Liberia.
Dr. Jonathan explained that the reason citizens of the region lost confidence in their leaders was because of the inappropriate use of the power of incumbency to manipulate the electoral system to continue to perpetuate themselves in power even to the detriment of the people.
According to him, the deployment of full technology in all stages of the electoral process, will not only enhance free and fair elections but also completely eliminate manipulation and rigging of election results.
“If technology is deployed, African Presidents who refuse to relinquish power even when they lost election will find it difficult to manipulate the process because it will be the prerogative of the people to choose to vote them out or allow them to continue in power” Jonathan said.
Former President Ebele Jonathan was highly applauded by Members of the ECOWAS Parliament for being among the few incumbent African President that has demonstrated the ideals of statesmanship and a true democrat by relinquishing power to his opponent when it was obvious that he had lost the election even before the final result was declared, blamed the political class for being responsible for the upheaval and current challenges bedeviling the region.
Some of the reasons he advanced for the poor state of affairs include a high level of corruption, bad leadership, and lack of respect for the constitution.
He charged ECOWAS leaders to achieve the primary responsibility of setting up the regional body which is for economic integration and development.
Former President Jonathan further called on the ECOWAS Parliament to put the executives of their various countries on their toes.
“The role of the Parliament is critical and being the eyes of democracy, you must do everything possible to grow our constitution by consistent amendments depending on societal needs and realities on the ground. You must not only be proactive but you must also be dynamic and work towards ensuring that the tenets of democracy as enshrined in our constitutions are observed. You hear some citizens of Members State questioning the rationale behind their membership of ECOWAS. “They believe that ECOWAS is just a club of Heads of States of the sub-region coming together to protect their own interest. And so, it is you the Members of the Parliament that will assure the citizens of your various countries because you are their representatives. You have to work with the Authority of Heads of States and Governments’ to deliver to your people and help instill confidence in the ECOWAS Project. “He advised.
Reporting by Idara Ukpanyang, editing by Daniel Adejo.