By Our Reporter
The UNDP Country Director, Dr Pa-Lamin Beyai, has urged for international support for Nigeria’s democracy to ensure the deepening of its process, and be able to influence other democracies in the sub-region and Africa.
He said that “Nigeria has the voice to regulate other lesser countries, not only in West Africa but in Africa. Once Nigeria gets it right, everybody gets it right.
“This is because Nigeria can be the voice of reasoning for others and make sure people obey constitution, people obey electoral laws and people do what is right for their people’’.
He said that Nigeria is the pre-eminent country not only in the sub-region, the region but the world at large in peace and security efforts.
“If Nigeria wins, West Africa wins; Africa wins and not only Africa wins, Europe wins, America wins, the whole world wins.
“You know why? You can’t get it wrong in Nigeria,” he said.
Beyai urged Nigeria to keep the peace, saying the huge population of the country could not be allowed to be displaced through electoral violence.
He said there were situations in many countries where people had been displaced because of election dispute.
He advised the Federal Government to commence early preparations for the 2019 general elections so as to guarantee smooth and transparent process.
Nigeria should not wait till 2017 or 2018 before commencing adequate preparations.
He commended Nigeria for the introduction of Card Reader Machine for the 2015 general elections, saying that “it greatly increased the credibility of the elections’’.
“I have heard Nigerians talk about the card reader; which many said was very good.
“However, some people had different opinions about it, it has been very contentious and people used legal arguments to say it was not a problem.
“Can we sort that out? That requires changing of the electoral law to ensure that card reader is part of the voting process in the country,” he said.
He however said that it is generally agreed that card reader has the capacity to reduce electoral fraud.
He urged the relevant institutions to keep working at the technology till it becomes perfect and acceptable to all.
“We have issues with card reader; we should not wait till 2019 to find solutions, we should work it right.
“I think everybody agrees that this is a good method of reducing fraud; that should continue,” he said.
Beyai urged Nigeria to learn from the challenges of the 2015 elections, saying that waiting till the eve year before the elections could throw up unforeseen challenges.
“Government should support INEC on time, you don’t wait until the election year; this is a huge country.
“If you have to wait until 2017 or 2018 to do anything, things would be late and we might have to face perhaps postponement of elections because certain things are not ready.
“It is the day the final results of the elections are declared that work starts for the next elections and Nigeria, unfortunately has the shortest cycle, which is four years.”
He congratulated Nigeria for ensuring the continuation of its democracy in spite of the challenges the 2015 elections encountered.