A non-governmental organisation, the Electoral Forum has canvassed for a review of the Electoral Act 2022 to provide for the emergence of quality delegates and tackle vote transaction in the selection of candidates of political parties.
Rising from its sixth technical session last Wednesday, the group, which is an initiative of the Initiative for Research, Innovation and Advocacy in Development, also urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to work in conjunction with civil society organisation “to develop and promote a programme of education on the new Electoral Act so that both the voting public and other interested stakeholders have a full and much better understanding of the provisions of the Act’.
In the statement, signed by its Chairman, Prof. Adebayo Olukoshi, the Electoral Forum advocated a “firm, consistent, and uniform enforcement of the Electoral Act and INEC’s regulations and guidelines to ensure fairness and equity”.
The Forum further suggested that: “INEC should ensure parties submit membership register and delegate lists (situations of indirect primaries) timely to enable proper verification of the names submitted. And only primaries monitored by INEC should be accepted.
“There is a need for the reform of the process of candidates’ emergence with a specific focus on the quality of delegates that would participate in the selection of candidates (party primaries).
“Beyond the election period, there is a need for a deeper and more regular public education on the Electoral Act INEC’s regulations and guidelines and the electoral procedures by INEC, parties, CSOs, and NOA (National Orientation Agency of Nigeria).
“Vote buying and selling as well as delegate inducements should be criminalized with strict enforcement of penalties through collaborative efforts amongst relevant agencies including Police, EFCC, ICPC, and INEC.
“A reconstruction and reconfiguration of voting cubicles to further guarantee the secrecy of the ballot/voting”.
The session, which was supported by Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), focused on the conduct of political party primaries, the emergence of candidates for the 2023 election, and Ekiti and Osun States governorship elections, which are the key electoral issues in Nigeria’s current electoral timelines.
The session extensively discussed how presidential candidates emerged and the conduct of the two recent governorship elections.
The Forum commended the many progressive provisions of the new Electoral Act 2022, the conduct of party primaries by some of the political parties, the supervision of the Ekiti and Osun States governorship election, and security agencies during these electoral activities.
It expressed concerns about the integrity and survival of Nigeria’s democratic system and agreed that the Electoral Act 2022 requires a further amendment to safeguard the process. Participants particularly noted issues of the nomination of candidates and election of delegates as very important aspects of the electoral process and should be conducted appropriately
On the Ekiti and Osun States governorship elections, The Forum commended INEC for the successful supervision of these elections. Participants agreed that “there is clear evidence that our elections are getting better although still challenged by vote-buying and selling. All stakeholders did better – INEC, security agencies, and the electorate”.
It noted that voter mobilisation had improved with a higher turnout of 54.48 percent in relation to PVC (Permanent Voters Card) collection.
Participants at the forum included former INEC Chairman, Prof Atahiru Jega; Former Acting INEC Chairman, Mrs Amina Zakari; Director-general of the Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research, Prof Anthonia Simbine; journalist and author, Dr Everest Amaefule, and election management consultant, Mr Okechukwu Ndeche.