Saturday 30 January 2016

INEC Takes Steps To Improve Electoral Process

Mahmood Yakubu
As part of efforts to improve the country’s electoral process, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has strengthened its relationship with Development Partners.

The commission’s chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed this after holding three different meetings with the leaderships of the International Republican Institute (IRI), International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
According to a post on the commission’s Facebook page, during the meeting at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja, Yakubu assured that he would build on existing relationship with Development Partners to improve the electoral process.
The chairman recognised the partnership and support the commission had enjoyed from the international organisations, which he said had: “continued to advance the cause of democracy through the sound management of the electoral processes based on international best practice.”
Yakubu lamented the low level of participation of registered political parties in elections, stressing the need to strengthen the parties with a view to improving the process.
“As we speak, we have thirty (30) registered Political parties in Nigeria but not all of them participate in elections. But we go through one election or the other you see only few political parties participating. For the system to be stronger than what it is, parties must be strengthened. They are the only vehicles for vying for elective positions. The political party is the only platform recognized by the Constitution to vie for elective positions.
“Making elections better is not just a function of here and now. We shall continue to explore ways to strengthen the electoral processes in areas such as capacity building, relationship with political parties, issues arising from field experience and how we can fix them, as well as logistical challenges,” he said.
The INEC chairman supported efforts by the Development Partners to carry out self-appraisal, with a view to improving the partnership and support to the electoral process in Nigeria.
Speaking earlier, the Country Director of IRI, Sentell Barnes, commended the new leadership of INEC in its paces so far.
“We commend your unwavering commitment to improving electoral processes in Nigeria,” he said.
Barnes recommended the need “for the commission to institutionalise the training of poll/ party agents through inclusion of poll/party workshops in the list of activities issued ahead of elections.”
He also recommended the need for structured interaction between INEC and the Development Partners as well as the need for the commission to prioritise accessibility to polling units and enhance communication of INEC messages in accessible formats.
The IRI country director also assured that the Institute remained committed to the quest for credible and transparent elections.
Speaking also, IFES Country Representative, Shalva Kipshidze, explained that the purpose of their visit was to brief the commission on previous communications with different departments of INEC as well as explore avenues to further strengthen the existing relationship for better elections.
Also speaking, UNDP Country Director, Pa Lamin Beyai, informed the commission that the UNDP and affiliate donor organisations like; the EU, DFID, and Canadians had contributed thirty (30) million dollars towards supporting elections in this country in various forms.
He implored the commission to engage with the different Development Partners to find ways of reviving the Joint Donor Basket so as to continue improving elections in Nigeria.
The commission in a bulletin issued in Abuja on Thursday, January 7, which was shared on its Facebook page, disclosed that it has 78 re-run elections to conduct in 2016. The electoral umpire concluded by further revealing that four elections would be conducted in Imo, six in Kogi, and three each in Plateau and Taraba states.
Meanwhile, Governor Nyesom Wike’s mandate was on Wednesday, January 27 upheld by the Nigerian Supreme Court despite the alleged irregularities that marred the conducted of the election.

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