The national assembly should not change the order of the 2019 elections, Idayat Hassan, director of the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), says.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has fixed the presidential and national assembly elections for the same day, followed by governorship and state assembly elections also simultaneously.

But the federal legislature has proposed to re-order the elections, fixing the national assembly first, followed by governorship and state assembly — and finally presidential.

The amendment, subject to presidential assent, is thought to be an attempt by the lawmakers to secure their re-election first so as not to be jilted by the president.

But Hassan, while addressing the press in Abuja on Friday at a workshop titled “Three decades of democratic transition in Africa”, is of the opinion that the proposed change will not be a good idea.

“I think that will not actually help the planning of INEC who have already released a time table,” she said.

“I think we should not also upset the system. Because if you remember in the 2010 amendment, there was an attempt to do this and at the court, it was squashed. I think reversing it is a distraction and something that is not welcome for a process we have been planning for more than 400 days to the elections.”

She also expressed worries about the fluid democratic culture breeding in the country.

“I think we are practising a hybrid system where we strive to be a democratic but when it is necessary we also become authoritarian. If you look at the level of press freedom, for instance, in the last two years it has not been commendable,” she said.

“When you look at recent reports of social media monitoring and requests on Facebook, Google, Twitter on accounts of citizens, you will realise that Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt top the list. So, there are pointers to show that we are operating a hybrid system.

“We strive to be democratic when it suits us and when it doesn’t suit us we tow the path of autocracy.”

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