Elections and Party Agent Education

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Saturday letter2

Election education means providing citizens with basic information about participating in elections. Election education is often provided by the state itself, often through a national electoral commission. So it is therefore important that it is politically non-partisan. Election education and party agent is training programme designed to equip and educate party agents with adequate information on modern and sophisticated strategy used by political opponents for rigging election in modern society.

Party agents are central to the protection of election results and election fraud. The selection and nomination of credible party agents is thus a vital stage of taming election fraud. The negligence by political aspirants of party agent strategy is strengthening election rigging and manipulation in Nigeria. Political parties expend great energy in campaigns and in buying the electorate, but pay little attention to party agent strategy which is the last resort for reclaiming victory amidst election fraud. INEC manual for election official (2015) reveals the significance of form EC.8B, EC.8C, EC.8D and EC.8E including EC.40 (G), EC.40G (1), EC.40G (2) and EC.40G (3) in the collation of governorship election results. The main objectives for including party agents in the election process are to identify human errors and rigging at voting points. A key role of a party agent is to inspect and list the serial numbers and the seals on ballot boxes including listing the serial number of the ballot papers. Every voting point has a form EC.8B with a serial number written on it. It is the chief duty of the party agent to ensure the correct figures and words are documented on the form EC.8B. Nomination of credible party agents is a key tool for salvaging manipulation of election results.

Osun State is known to be a peaceful state free of election violence.  But the just concluded Osun election was enmeshed in modern rigging strategy adopted by All Progressives Congress. Osun State has a total of 1,682,495 registered voters, and 3,010 voting points.  Of the 3,010 voting points, there were 3,003 successful election conducts prior to the rerun gubernatorial election that saw Adeleke recording the highest votes. But INEC, determined to rob Osun people, decided on a rerun election on seven voting points. Is this rerun justifiable in light of Nigeria electoral law? Election fraud or manipulation begins with party agent being compromised at voting points. The primary role required to be played by party agent is to ensure that a copy of the form EC.8B at each voting point is collated in his presence and a copy of the collated result as cited in form EC.8B are  sent by video, text message or phone shot to the chief party agent. The chief party agent will then crosscheck if the form EC.8B sent tallies with the collation result of form EC.8E at the state collation centre. Following up with the election process is the sure measure for taming the ruling party from perpetuating election fraud in Nigeria.

If Osun State PDP must reclaim their victory from APC, they must first reach out to their party agents to get the correct figures of each voting point before heading to the state election tribunal. If they have got it right through party agent strategy then victory is sure for them. But if they are not sure of the credibility of party agent strategy they ought not to waste time going to the state election tribunal. In view of the Osun State concluded election, certain electoral laws must be amended to reflect changing times in politics in Nigeria. First, a law must be passed to empower the National Judicial Council to nominate and approve National Chairman and returning officer for INEC; second, a law that allows party agent to video, text and snap EC.8B to their chief party agent must be enacted and lastly, a law that restrains security agencies from harassing and depriving eligible voters from casting their votes using inducement and threat strategy.

 Pedro Ukokobili, Lagos