INEC: Parties Must Kick-start Electoral Reforms

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Adedayo Akinwale and Theresa Adeke in Abuja

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) thursday charged political parties to drive the process of electoral reforms by conducting free, fair and transparent primaries.

INEC National Commissioner, Mohammed Haruna, said in Abuja at a stakeholders’ roundtable on post 2019 general election review with the theme “Towards Electoral Reforms in Nigeria’’, organised by the Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA), that when parties were able to conduct hitch-free primaries, it would rub off positively on the outcome of the general election.

Haruna spoke on the same day INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said with the 2019 general election being over, it was time to re-examine the entire electoral process with a view to consolidating on the successes and establishing a template that would address the challenges.

Haruna, at the workshop, said: “For me, primaries of political parties, that is probably the beginning if we want to reform our electoral system; party themselves must conduct free and fair primaries. That is where the electoral process should start from.”

Earlier, the Executive Director of CTA, Faith Nwadishi, had said stakeholders must continue to review, appraise the outcomes of the 2019 general election, mistakes made, the successes, lessons learnt and rejig the process to improve on the conduct of the 2023 elections.
But at another event yesterday attended by the INEC chairman, he said with the elections over, the commission would continue to review the process so it could learn from its challenges to deliver more widely-acceptable elections in the future.

Yakubu, at a meeting with media executives in Abuja, to review the 2019 general election, said the meeting was the sixth in the series of major activities to review the 2019 general election.

He added that the commission promised Nigerians that it would undertake a comprehensive review of the 2019 elections with a view to learning the necessary lessons for improvement of future elections.

As part of the review process, Yakubu noted that the commission started by carrying out a comprehensive internal review with its members of staff in each state of the federation, which was followed by a meeting with its Electoral Officers (EOs) drawn from each of the 774 local government areas nationwide.

“Since Monday this week, we have been interacting with stakeholders in the electoral process on daily basis. We have met with leaders of political parties, the security agencies, the civil society and today we are meeting with you – the media.
“Each of these meetings is intended to afford the commission the opportunity to appraise the conduct of the 2019 general election. You will recall that before the election, we had our regular quarterly meetings with stakeholders, including the media.

“At these meetings, we consistently briefed you on the planning for the general election. Like other stakeholders, we made available to you copies of our Strategic Plan and Strategic Programme `of Action (2017-2021); the list of the 91 political parties registered by the commission; the number of registered voters and their distribution across the states of the federation and the 14-item Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2019 General Election.

“When we encountered challenges in the course of preparations for the general election, you were the first to be informed, believing that the media is the gateway for information dissemination to citizens. I must place on record, the commission’s appreciation for your support during the daily briefings following the painful but necessary rescheduling of the general election from 16th to 23rd February 2019,’’ he said.

According to him, the commission will always work closely with the media, being a strategic partner that is critical to its success.
He said it was for this reason that in addition to the INEC press corps, the headquarters of the commission alone accredited 1,799 journalists from more than 150 domestic media organisations to cover the 2019 general election while the presence of foreign media was also impressive.

He said: “We had 332 journalists from 52 foreign media organisations from different parts of Africa, the Middle East, Europe, the Americas, Australia and Asia to cover the elections. It was, indeed, an engaging experience. The general election was the most extensively covered event in Nigeria in 2019.

“Now that the election is over, it is time to re-examine the entire process with a view to consolidating the successes and establishing a template that would address the challenges.”

He stated that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss all the salient aspects of the process, which required improvement.