- With barely 31 months to the 2023 general elections, the challenges of Nigeria’s electoral process are enormous
- Some stakeholders are decisive actions to fix Nigeria's electoral challenges
- A citizens town hall meeting recently held brought the major stakeholders together to chart a way forward
A recent citizens town hall on electoral reform has proposed certain initiatives for Nigeria to take in the country's quest for electoral reform ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Stakeholders at the event recommended e-balloting, security, prosecution of electoral offenders and inclusion as some of the initiatives paramount to electoral reform.
Speakers at the town hall include the chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu; attorney general of the federation and minister of Justice Abubakar Malami and Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Matthew Kukah.
Others are legal luminary, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), minister of state for Niger Delta, Festus Keyamo (SAN), and several civil society actors in the country.
Amongst resolution that emerged during the town hall include the establishment of an electoral offences body as stakeholders came out strongly on the need to punish perpetrators of violence and violators of electoral laws.
Other issues raised include the cost of elections, use of technology and managing political actors.
Speaking at the event, INEC chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, stressed that it is imperative to establish the National Electoral Offences Commission.
According to him, this will improve the quality of elections in the country, noting that the nation’s policy on persons who undermine the election needs to be clearly spelt out.
His words: “Any nation that does not punish electoral offences is doomed,” adding that “once an election cycle ends, politicians would devise means of undermining subsequent elections.”
”So, instead of consolidating on the gains of one election, we are always experimenting with new ideas to ensure that those who have perfected the art of undermining INEC’s efforts do not succeed,” he added.
On the cost of running elections, the INEC chairman lamented that the commission has been dragged to court over 2000 times, adding most times there is always a need to hire lawyers.
“Elections are expensive because we also conduct bye-elections including senatorial elections. We have six senatorial district elections to conduct and we continue to spend on these elections,” he said.
Professor Yakubu, however, called for attitudinal change which he said cannot be legislated, stressing that if politicians continue with the attitude of cutting corners and encouraging thuggery during an election, no amount of electoral reform would guarantee free, fair and credible election.
Legit.ng had earlier reported that the town hall was an opportunity for stakeholders to build a national consensus on priority issues for electoral reforms through an inclusive and collaborative process.
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