Nigeriaâ€™s electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and operators in the private sector have agreed to a partnership that would ensure credible polls in 2019.
The decision was part of the outcome of yesterday stakeholdersâ€™ meeting between INEC and the organised private sector held at Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos where both parties agreed that a collaboration is inevitable in the interest of good governance in Nigeria.
Speaking at the event organised in collaboration with the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) and which attracted captains of industries, INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, canvassed against private sector detaching themselves from electoral processes and called for a change of approach.
Noting that the 2019 general election is an enormous task with 119, 973 polling units, 8, 809 wards (registration areas), 68 political parties (largest in Nigeriaâ€™s electoral history – with a probability to increase as INEC processes 138 more applications) and an anticipated over 80 million voters, Mahmood said the commission has expectations from the business community.
According to him, â€œThe business community has a stake on our democracy of which the conduct of free, fair, credible and peaceful elections is an integral part. You are a major influencer of public opinion. Since a good election is good for business, our first appeal to you is to use your influence in doing advocacy for peaceful elections.
â€œSecondly, the business community can assist in the area of votersâ€™ education through corporate social responsibility. Those in advertising, telecommunications, transport, the media, hospitality and entertainment, can play important roles. We can work together to develop messages and dissemination of same.
â€œThirdly, many of you have seamlessly delivered goods and services to customers. You have, over time, perfected the capacity to deliver products to the remotest locations nationwide. The commission can leverage on such expertise to organise electoral logistics such that staff and material arrive at polling units at the appointed time without citizens having to wait long hours to be served on election day.â€
Responding, LCCI president, Mr. Babatunde Paul Ruwase, called on businessmen and women to assist INEC actualise the vision of credible elections in 2019.
â€œWe have responsibility as citizens and stakeholders, to support him (Mahmood) to achieve his objective. May I also appeal to the judiciary and the security agencies to support INEC in ensuring the credibility and integrity of our elections,â€ he said.
Stressing that the quality of political governance has significant implication for the sustainability and prosperity of businesses, Ruwase said: â€œSince it is the politicians that determine the quality of economic policies; it is the politicians that determine the quality of institutions; it is the politicians that appropriate the resources of the state, this is why we need to get involved.â€
The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Sterling Bank, Mr. Abubakar Suleiman and the Publisher, Business Day Newspaper, Frank Aigbogun, who were speakers at the event both agreed on the need for actors in the private sector to join hands with INEC to deliver a credible election in 2019.