A former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof Attahiru Jega, has said that Nigerian politicians are more interested in winning elections than in governance.
He said such an attitude was not good for the country and its people.
Jega spoke in Abuja on Thursday in a lecture titled, ‘Democracy and the Challenges of Nation Building in Africa,’ delivered as the Distinguished Annual Lecture for participants of the Executive Intelligence Management Course at the Institute for Security Studies, Abuja.
Rather than settling down and planning on how to govern, the former INEC boss said politicians in Nigeria and some African countries only prepare on how to grab power.
He said, “In most African countries, certainly it is true also here in Nigeria, many politicians spend a lot of time trying to win an election and very little time comparatively in preparing for what they would do when they come into office.
“The best of them will now only begin to appoint a committee, an advisory committee to prepare for them what to do after they have been elected.
“Frankly, for me, this is a major challenge of leadership all over Africa, but most especially for us here in Nigeria.
“If you want to be elected, you have to be very clear from the beginning on what you want to do for the people and you should hit the ground running from day one.
“If leaders come into office unprepared, a lot of time is taken before they can get up to speed in delivering their mandate.”
Jega regretted that this is a general problem all over Africa, noting that “as we seek to deepen our democracy on the African continent, we have to pay attention to leadership selection.”
He regretted the lack of ‘national identity’ in the polity.
This, he said, had taken dominance over ethnic, religious and regional identities, and that it remained a challenge in deepening democracy in the country.
Jega, who also condemned vote-buying in the country, asked voters to shun such politicians who entice them with cash to get their votes.
However, he said if voters were unable to reject the money due to poverty, he said they could still be collecting the money and vote their conscience.
He equally condemned leaders who would preach harmony, speak about national identity in the daytime and at night meet with their religious, tribal and other groups to plan and scheme.