The chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Mahmood Yakubu, has charged Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to engage in educating Nigerians on the dynamics of electoral process.
Speaking during the INEC-CSOs dialogue held in Enugu, Yakubu, who emphasized the need for the CSOs to increase their knowledge on rules and regulations guiding the conduct of elections, he urged CSOs to acquaint themselves with the law and the changes that have taken place since the last election as Nigerians look up to them for untainted analysis and clear understanding of issues in the electoral process.
“Let me also emphasize that as a society develops and as more innovations are brought to bear on the electoral process, civil society groups and organizations must strive to increase their knowledge and understanding of the nuances and dynamics of the electoral process. Without a good knowledge of the constitutional and electoral framework regulating and guiding the conduct of elections, it will be difficult for civil society groups and organizations to inform properly, advocate rationally and Impart knowledge and sensitize the Nigerian people,” he said.
The INEC chairman, represented by the National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee (IVEC), Festus Okoye explained that the mission and the vision of the commission is to conduct free and fair election for sustenance of democracy, enjoyed the CSOs to act with integrity while engaging the citizens on the electoral process “and in a no-partisan manner,”
He said the aim of the dialogue meeting with the CSOs was for them to endorse some of the innovations that would be deployed for the 2019 general elections, adding, “We would want the civil society groups to use this wonderful opportunity to interrogate and proffer solutions to a wide number of issues such as vote buying, internal party democracy and more especially gender inclusiveness and PWDs representation, which has consistently remained low in spite of the efforts of the commission and other stakeholders. In doing this, you will be adding value to the system ad also protect the collective interest of the people you represent”.
He said, “As you are all aware the commission has just emerged from the conduct of several off season governorship elections and has continued to improve with successive elections. The 2019 general election is a few months away, it is expected that the engagements between CSOs and the commission will be more regular. I must not fail to state that the CSOs partnership with the commission has been of tremendous help in strengthening the electoral process through their observations reports, mobilization of citizens to participate and cast their votes in an informed manner and the issues they regard as appropriate and good in shaping and redefining policies.
“Your ideas and suggestions have also contributed immensely in drawing up the commission’s guidelines, manuals and regulations. This meeting is not just to share ideas but also to share knowledge and experiences from the people committed to the sustenance of democracy. I therefore expect implementable suggestions, constructive criticisms, questions and answers in order to improve electoral process,” he added.
Yakubu commended European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES) for the support accorded to the commission in the efforts in conducting free and fair election for the sustenance of democracy.
In his remarks, the Project Coordinator of ECES, Mr Rudolf Elbling, commended INEC for its commitment towards strengthening its partnership with CSO’s across the country at the various stages of the electoral process.
Elbling assured INEC of their commitment to continue to support its engagements with critical stakeholders within the context of the European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria.