Head of the department of Political Science and International Relations, University of Abuja, Prof. Yusufu Alli Zoaka has said that the present electoral system has outlived its usefulness and should be replaced with better political formula for the smooth growth of the nation.
Zoaka who made these remarks in Gwagwalada while delivering a lead paper at the Fourth Round-table Discussion of the department, added that the result of wrong political experiments has seen that a large number of the nation’s weaker population are exempted from the process of deciding who govern the nation and the votes of the willing electorate never count.
The political scientist suggested that the electoral system should be thoroughly reviewed before the 2019 general election and replaced with a mixed proportional voting system to ensure greater participation of the people.
He remarked that the present voting system which was adopted in 1999 has become flawed, as it promotes unparalleled violence, increased apathy among the electorate, breeds thuggery, desperation and wasteful spending by politicians who believe in winner-takes-all mentality. He also noted that unhealthy competition and rivalry has transformed Nigerian politics into a do-or-die affair.
Expatiating on the theme, “The Quest for Proportional Representation in Nigeria,” Zoaka said women, the physically challenged, members of the academic community and youths of voting age have been politically alienated since the day Nigeria adopted the present democratic system.
He stressed that western and African countries that practise mixed proportional voting system such as Ireland, Sweden, Malta, Australia, South Africa and Rwanda among others, were more peaceful and experience greater economic growth as well as seamless transition of government due to improved representation of the people in the political system.
The professor of Political Science warned that nothing good can come out of a faulty and overtly expensive experiment, stressing that except the nation takes urgent steps to decriminalise elections by adopting better political culture, the desperation among politicians to grab power at all costs will get worse in the future and eventually lead to a complete failure or collapse of democracy.
He described the not-too-young-to-run law as a pipe dream and an exercise in futility, pointing out that no youth can afford the cost of buying expression of intent forms, campaign expenses and other charges levied by political parties on aspirants to elective offices without the support of moneybags and godfathers who insist on controlling the candidate.
The way out of the present dilemma, Zoaka said, was for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to commence the process of reforming the electoral system by advising the federal government and political parties to encourage the adoption of a better, more representative political culture that promote disciple in spending, while encouraging better voter participation.
“The present political system does not guarantee violence-free election. Rather, it encourages desperation; a winner-takes-all mentality and madness among politicians who engage in every sort of maneuver to grab power and recoup their expenses during campaigns. Whereas a mixed proportional voting system will ensure that minority groups will also have a voice in governance.
“We do not require prophets to know that the failure of the democratic system to meet the yearnings of the people was the root of the increasing agitation for restructuring. The present system has not worked well because it lacks inclusiveness and should be replaced. Today, we have a government of few individuals, by a privileged minority, for few people which has continued to breed conflicts in the country,” Zoaka said.
Another contributor, Dr. Angela Ajodo-Adebanjoko, a senior lecturer at the department of Political Science, Federal University of Science and Technology, Lafia, Nasarawa state, concurred with the views of Prof. Zoaka and appealed to INEC to put in motion the necessary instruments for proper transition from the present unhealthy political culture to a better system to ensure equitable participation of Nigerians in the polity.