Goodluck Jonathan, former Nigeria’s President, has hinted that building citizens’ confidence in sub-regional democracy needs the full deployment of modern-day technologies to guarantee free, fair, and credible elections of member states.

He stated during a panel discussion at the First Extra-Ordinary Session of ECOWAS Parliament in Liberia’s capital.

The former president said the threat to democracy currently experienced is attributed to the loss of confidence of citizens in the region against their leaders which is believed to be manipulated by the use power of the incumbency on the electoral system, hence advocating for appropriate technologies to counter threats.

“If full technology is deployed in all the stages involved in the electoral process the elections will not only be free and fair but it will completely eliminate the manipulation and rigging of election results.

When technology is deployed across the board you will find out people can even vote from the comfort of their homes or in their cars and by so doing politicians will no longer have the opportunity to engage thugs and criminals to stuff ballot boxes, cause mayhem and disrupt the electoral process.

African Presidents who refuse to relinquish power even when they have 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.”

Speaking generally on the journey of peace mediation on the Malian conflict, the Nigerian Former President Jonathan explained that findings have shown that there are no proper guiding principles regarding the country’s constitutional amendments, thus urging the parliaments to stand firm in decision making particularly on the removal of presidents to avoid riots in the region.

“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.

For a President to amend a constitution, they use the parliamentarians, you should also interrogate this, and the parliament should be strong enough to do what is right for the countries.

Constitutions will continue to grow, depending on challenges

human societies faced, so the parliament must continue to amend the constitution.

But there must be clear provisions for the removal of presidents, in some of our constitutions, there’s no provision for the removal of presidents if people feel they’re no longer happy with the way you’re running the system.

All of the Francophone countries have no provisions for removing a president, so when we don’t have any provision for removing a president, the only thing you can do is to mobilize people and start riots and I think in a democracy we must have a better way to remove a sitting president not just on the election.

Like in Mali, there was no provision for removing the president, so if the citizens are frustrated the only way is to mobilize riot which is very negative.”

Also speaking, Goodluck Jonathan harps on the need for the ECOWAS to upscale its economic impact on its citizens, specifically in ensuring the provision of funds for member states’ industrialization to enhance stronger economy so as to discourage political thugs in the region.

“Even if it has to go through a legislative process, leaders in the sub-region must play a prominent role in creating and building a strong economic base that can enhance proper economic development within the sub-region. What is wrong with ECOWAS building a strong Bank for trade and investment through which it can provide support and grants to help develop infrastructure and industrialization in the Member States? What about if ECOWAS can put resources together to build a world-class health facility in one of the Member States where people from the sub-region can go to get medical treatment instead of the present trend where community citizens travel to a different part of the world to seek medical attention.

If countries know they’ve something to benefit from ECOWAS, if citizens know that they’ve something to benefit from ECOWAS, the issue of attempting to move and adopt quarreling what’re we getting from ECOWAS. They don’t know whether ECOWAS is adding value to the lives of their citizens in any way.

It is time that our leaders must help the citizens of the sub-region to understand the values of ECOWAS. The citizens must know what they stand to benefit by reason of their country being a Member of the ECOWAS.”

Former President Goodluck Jonathan believed democracy has been assaulted as some of these thugs are being manipulated by politicians, thus urging the parliaments to change the narratives in order to build the ECOWAS of the citizens.

 

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