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Niger Deltans Offer New Ideas for Nigeria’s Future Elections 

Niger Deltans Offer New Ideas for Nigeria’s Future Elections 

…Call for Probe into INEC’s Approved N355bn for Elections 

By Ekemini Simon

Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), political parties and the media organisations drawn from Nigeria’s Niger Delta region have proffered new ideas towards addressing challenges faced in the just concluded general elections in Nigeria.

The organisations operating in the region made their recommendations known in a communique issued at the end of a one- day People’s public hearing on the impacts of violence and corruption in 2023 Elections: Gender Integrity and Accountability organised by Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC), in collaboration with Women’s Rights Advancement Alternative (WRAPA) and Affirmative Action Initiative for Women (NCAA), with support from MacArthur Foundation.

Participants recommended that the composition of Electoral Management Boards (EMBs) must be carefully selected to ensure people with antecedent integrity, probity, honesty and high moral and ethical capital are recruited.

They said there should be deterring consequences for those found culpable of flouting electoral laws.

While noting that the government must work to punish vote buying, participants said anti-fraud agencies must be empowered, capacitated to be able to trace vote buying as vote buyers have devised ingenious ways of going about it.

The participants called for the people in the rural areas to be sensitized on the negative impact of selling their votes on their future and the future of their children.

The gathering insisted that INEC should be probed to ascertain how the N355 billion approved for the Commission was used.

A participant making contributions.

They noted that election infrastructure must be fully established and strengthened before the next elections. 

They pointed out that since election is based on trust, the government and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) must work to build the trust of the electorate leveraging on media, Civil CSOs, faith leaders and community gatekeepers.

The participants explained that since there is a need for aggressive and in-depth voter education, the government and INEC must employ the professional skills of the media and civil society organizations to carry out voter education on a continuous basis.

Part of the communique reads ” Demonetize elections in Nigeria. Adequate Security must be provided. Henceforth there should be armed security personnel at the periphery of the polling units, while the security personnel and the voting points should have effective communication gadgets to reach their colleagues at the periphery timely.

“The BVAS has shown that Electronic Voting is possible. Future elections should allow for electronic voting. INEC should allow for diaspora voting going forward.

“There is the urgent need to carry out massive Civic education, as many citizens do not have proper understanding of their civic responsibilities, obligations and rights.

“INEC should set clear criteria for the recruitment of adhoc staff going forward. INEC needs to improve logistics management capabilities. They should establish a functioning logistics department manned by skilled personnel.’

The participants noted that there is need for women to be encouraged and empowered to participate in elective politics hence the Nigerian government should commit themselves to establishing a gender balance in governmental bodies and committees, as well as in public administrative entities. 

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They called on political parties to examine party structures and procedures in order to remove all barriers that directly or indirectly discriminate against the participation of women in politics.

They charged political parties to consider developing initiatives that allow women to participate fully in all internal policy-making structures and appointive and electoral nominating processes.

The gathering further called on political parties to consider incorporating gender issues into their political agenda.

The communique added “INEC should enable citizens on special duties to cast their votes at their duty post or a day before or after the stipulated election days. The National Assembly must ensure the full independence of INEC through legislative intervention.

“Going forward INEC must ensure that persons with disability are able to vote their choice unhindered, in consonance with the Convention on the rights of persons with Disabilities (CRPD). INEC must adhere to the electoral Act in totality always.”

Earlier, participants had observed that there were evidential incidences of voter suppression, intimidation, violence resulting in bodily harm and large scale vote buying during the 2023 general elections.

They noted that politicians somehow found a way with the connivance of INEC officials to substitute trained personnel.

Other gaps issues noted was low voter turnout recorded in the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections on March 18 attributable to the failure of INEC to respect their own guidelines during the presidential election couped with INEC’s poor logistics management.

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