Ex-Minister Slams INEC, Calls for National Unity Government

Former Minister of Housing, Nduese Essien has slammed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the country’s leadership, demanding a complete overhaul of the electoral system and the formation of a government of national unity.

Essien, an octogenarian who served in the House of Representatives and as a minister under various administrations, lamented the cascading fraudulent conduct of elections and called for an immediate investigation of INEC.

He said: “The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has failed in its duty to uphold the integrity of our electoral process, the cascading fraudulent conduct of general elections stands as a testament to the erosion of our democratic values. I demand an immediate investigation of the INEC and a comprehensive overhaul of our electoral system. We cannot go to another election with this porous system”.

He called for the formation of the judiciary to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice, adding that the prevalence of cash-for-judgment schemes undermines the very foundation of democracy and erodes public confidence in the judiciary.

He said, “Since 2015, we have witnessed the worst levels of nepotism in our nation, the lopsided appointments which have negated not only the Federal Character principles enshrined in our constitution but also the tenets of justice and equity. Impunity too, has been ever so pervasive, with powerful individuals and institutions flouting the law carelessly while ordinary Nigerians suffer the consequences.

”This culture of nepotism erodes trust in our institutions and undermines the very foundations of our democracy. No one should act outside the law. No one should be above the law.

“We must collectively ensure that justice is blind– meting out punishment to the powerful and protection to the powerless

“These maladies have become so entrenched that it appears no administration emerging through our electoral process will ever be able to overcome them.”

“The quality of governance in Nigeria has continued to plummet through successive administrations since 1999 and has gotten worse since 2015.

“I, therefore, urge President Tinubu to do his best to address these issues and keep the country together to the end of his first tenure. Thereafter, a government of national unity should be formed to chart a new course for our nation.

“Today, I stand before you with a heart heavy with concern and a spirit emboldened by resolve. Our beloved country, Nigeria, is at a crossroads, grappling with crises that threaten the very fabric of our society. Endemic corruption, insecurity, impunity, nepotism, bad governance, and a flawed leadership recruitment system have cast a shadow over our nation’s future.

“In my 80 years on earth, I have seen the colonial administration of Nigeria. I have seen Nigeria since Independence in 1960. I have seen Nigeria under different shades of military rule and temporary civilian rule up to 1998.

“I have been an active participant in the government of Nigeria from 1999 in the House of Representatives and as a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria up to 2011. Since then, I have been on the sidelines of the evolving political scenario in the country.”

Essien decried the worsening corruption situation in the country, which he said by 2023, Nigeria stood at 145 out of 180, reflecting the deteriorating level of corruption in the country.

He said, “We cannot hope to move forward as a nation until we root out corruption at all levels of government and society. Regrettably, corruption is most unlikely to reduce in Nigeria with the laisser-faire attitude of successive administrations wanting to accumulate excess resources to outpace opponents to win the next election”

He added, “Equally pressing is the issue of insecurity, which has left too many of our citizens living in fear for their lives and livelihoods.

“From the menace of Boko Haram in the Northeast to the banditry and kidnapping ravaging our communities, no Nigerian should have to endure such terror.

“We must bolster our security forces, invest in intelligence gathering and technology, and address the underlying socio-economic factors that fuel extremism and criminality.

“But we must also recognize that security is not just about guns and bullets; it is also about justice, opportunity, and dignity for all.”

He said Nigeria’s leadership recruitment system is broken, allowing unqualified and unscrupulous individuals to ascend to positions of power, while those with the vision and integrity to lead are sidelined or silenced.

“We must overhaul our electoral process, strengthen our democratic institution, and empower our citizens to hold their leadership accountable. True leadership is not about wielding power; it is about serving the people with humility, honesty, and compassion”.

“As I enter my ninth decade, I recommit myself to the cause of a better Nigeria – a Nigeria free from corruption, insecurity, impunity, and bad governance. And I call upon each and every one of you to join me in this noble endeavour.

“Together, let us rise above our differences, transcend our divisions, and forge a future worthy of our collective dreams.

“May God bless Nigeria, and may He grant us the wisdom, strength, and courage to overcome the challenges that lie ahead,” he said.

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