…says the potential threat of insecurity, a bad economy
…We are tracking campaign finance, illegal financial flow – INEC
The British High Commission on Wednesday said it was committed to a successful general election in 2023 as the world would be watching Nigeria.
While acknowledging that the economic crisis and worsening security challenges would be potential threats to the elections, the BHC said the execution of the 2023 elections would be an important milestone for Nigeria.
The UK’s Head of Overseas Governance and Stability, Elizabeth Drew, stated this in Abuja on Tuesday at a national forum on the elections organized by a coalition of over 80 human rights organizations in Abuja. Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, with support from FCDO and UKAID.
During the programme, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said the commission was mobilizing all national institutions to continue campaign financing and combat the flow of illegal funds.
NCSSR convener Ene Obi said the forum would critically assess the current political environment and make recommendations and suggestions in the preparation and conduct of the 2023 general elections.
“As we approach the 2023 general elections, all eyes and attention will be on the election and expectations will be very high given that it will be the sixth general election in Nigeria since 1999.
“We will also use the forum to support the building of political power, to deal with the commitment of citizens and the mobilization of voters. It is our hope that the electoral environment in Nigeria will improve as we head into the 2023 general elections.
“We will continue to work to improve elections in Nigeria to ensure that the process is free, fair and reflects the choices of the people,” Obi said.
Drew said: “There is no worry as we approach the polls. Nigeria is going to the general elections against security issues and economic growth.
“These are all factors that can affect the successful conduct of polls and hinder meaningful participation by citizens across the country. The UK stands ready to continue to support INEC and all relevant stakeholders in their efforts to conduct polls effectively in this context.
“Democracy in Nigeria really matters; As Africa’s largest democracy, Nigeria’s leadership in electoral reform and practice is important for the continent and beyond. Other countries look to Nigeria for democracy issues. The implementation of the 2023 polls will be an important milestone in this respect.
“As a long-standing partner, we believe in Nigeria, and we believe in democracy in Nigeria. We look forward to seeing a successful general election in Nigeria next year.”
The INEC chairman said the commission was ready to monitor campaign financing and illegal money flow between politicians and political parties financing elections.
Yakubu said: “On the return of campaign finance, the commission is determined to tackle the matter head-on. Areas of violations include party and candidate spending beyond what is prescribed by law and the diabolical practice of buying votes at polling stations on election day.
“We are mobilizing all national institutions with the responsibility of monitoring and combating the illegal flow of funds, as well as the broadcasting and press media regulatory agencies to address the issue. Details will be provided soon.”
Yakubu promised that INEC would continue to work with civil societies to improve the electoral process in Nigeria.
According to him, INEC reviewed the Memorandum of Understanding with the National Union of Road Transport Workers and expanded the framework of cooperation with the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria for the riverine areas.
He said: “On election logistics, particularly arrangements for movement of personnel and materials to various locations during the election, the committee met again with service providers and reviewed the Memorandum of Understanding with the road transport unions.
“Based on the experience of the previous elections, the committee has expanded the scope of cooperation for the river areas including the maritime union. Very soon, a revised agreement will be signed with service providers to cover land and sea transport.
“However, there are four broad areas where Nigerians want assurances of progress being made by the Commission and challenges (if any) encountered. These are security, campaign finance, technology, Permanent Voter Cards and assurances that votes will be counted on election day.
“Regarding security, the committee has repeatedly said that it is an area of concern. The committee is responsible for holding elections. However, ensuring the environment for the deployment of personnel and materials and the peaceful conduct of elections is a shared responsibility involving security agencies, political actors and their supporters, the media and other critical actors.
“The eternal insecurity of the country is a source of concern. Added to this existing challenge are the unfortunate incidents of attacks on campaigns, gatherings and processions in all political parties.”
Yakubu also said that beyond the provisions of the law, the Commission held an emergency meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security in light of the recent attacks on INEC Local Government offices in Ogun and Osun states.
“Profound resolutions were reached, including the deployment of joint security teams to our facilities nationwide. Beyond that, the Inspector General of Police convened an extraordinary meeting with political party leaders on the imperative of peaceful campaigning.
“We will continue to follow up on this bold step in our engagement with political parties and other critical stakeholders,” he said.
The Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali-Baba, represented by the ACA Director of Operations, Onaghise Osanyade, Assistant Commissioner of Police, said the Nigeria Police Force was working to ensure a conducive environment for the conduct of the 2023 elections.
Alkali-Baba, however, said that with synergy with other stakeholders, the elections will be free, fair and credible in a peaceful atmosphere.