A cross section of Nigerians in Switzerland on Tuesday urged the Independent National Electoral Commission to join the comity of democratic nations by mainstreaming independent candidacy in the electoral process in 2019.
They made the call against the backdrop of the nation’s Democracy Day celebration.
INEC had opposed the amendment of the constitution that sought to provide for the participation of independent candidates in election process.
INEC’s decision stemmed from the possibility of independent candidacy undermining the existence of political parties in the country.
Speaking to the Europe Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria, Mr. Domino Frank, a member of the Swiss-based Migration and Development Platform said that independent candidacy in election would further deepen the nation’s democracy.
Frank, who is an expert on peace and conflict resolution, noted that since 1999, electorate has had limited choices in voting, as the same politicians always emerged as flagbearers.
“I support the emergence of individuals who want to stand for election independently.
“Many countries have recorded success in this; we should move away from recycling same politicians, especially those with track record of corruption,” he said.
Frank also urged political parties to come up with clear and implementable manifesto that would reflect the will of the people.
According to him, such manifestoes should also make leaders accountable for their actions.
“There is greater value in democracy that we are yet to benefit from.
“The political arena is polluted and politicians thrive on ethnicity and religion to destabilise the polity,” Frank stressed.
He further urged Nigerians to register and get the Permanent Voters Card in order to perform their civic responsibility and to have a voice in the electoral process.
Similarly, Mr. Linus Ikpi , a Human Rights activist in Geneva, told NAN in a telephone interview that the nation’s democracy had strengthened over the years owing to the resolve of the military to remain in the barracks.
“Looking back to 1999, we have made a lot of progress, and learnt from mistakes of the past.
“However, in order to deepen democracy and its values, we need to provide a platform for all to participate.
“There are credible candidates who do not wish to be part of any political party. These people should be considered and given an opportunity to run for office.”
“Let us take example from France. President Emmanuel Macron came out of the blue, formed a party within a year and emerged as president.
“He couldn’t have stood a chance if he ran for primaries in any of the existing parties,” Ikpi noted.
He further commended President Muhammadu Buhari for delivering democracy gains by channelling monies recovered from corruption into developmental projects.
Others who spoke were unanimous in their call for independent candidacy in the 2019 elections. (NAN)