Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, has expressed his concern that Nigeria has transitioned from a democracy to a plutocracy, leading to a loss of confidence in the democratic process among the people.
Falana made these remarks during his keynote address titled “General Elections in Nigeria 2023: A Review of the Nation’s Political Culture and Electoral Integrity” at the 2023 Law Week Programme organized by the Benin branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Benin City, Edo State.
He called on the NBA to exert pressure on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to address issues such as the late arrival of INEC officials and ballot materials at polling stations, malfunctioning BVAS machines, and the limited or non-transmission of results from polling units to the Results Viewing Portal (IReV).
Falana highlighted the fact that out of the 93 million registered voters, only 22 million participated in the presidential election, emphasizing the need for INEC to address security challenges at polling units, including violent attacks on voters and officials, voter intimidation, the snatching and destruction of voting materials, significant cases of vote-buying, and the lack of accessibility for people with disabilities.
He urged the Benin branch of the NBA to request the national body of lawyers to convene a national summit to review the 2023 general elections once the relevant tribunals conclude the election petitions, the Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court.
Falana emphasized the importance of involving representatives from all relevant stakeholders in the summit. Additionally, he suggested that the NBA collaborate with the judiciary committees of both houses of the national assembly to draft constitutional amendments and amendments to the Electoral Act to establish credible elections in Nigeria.
Furthermore, Falana called on mass-based organizations to mobilize the Nigerian people to actively participate in the democratic process and take control of their political destiny.