• Get your act right on logistics, CSOs tell commission
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has threatened to blacklist all the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) members and some university lecturers who performed below expectations during the last general election.
Speaking yesterday at a stakeholders round table, organised by the Centre for Transparency Advocacy, (CTA) an election monitoring group based in Abuja, INEC’s National Commissioner and Supervisor in charge of Bayelsa, Edo and Rivers states, May Agbamuche-Mbu, said the commission may be compelled to blacklist members of NYSC, including some university dons who performed below expectation during the last general election.
This is coming as the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room (NCSSR) has called on the electoral umpire to put its act together, especially in terms of logistics ahead of the Kogi and Bayelsa states’ governorship elections.
Agbamuche-Mbu, who represented the INEC chairman, noted that the challenges associated with card readers would also come under perspective as the commission fine-tunes its preparation.
She also called on the National Assembly to sent the Electoral Act Amendment Bill to President Muhammadu Buhari for his assent.
“What we intend to do with the card reader is to look at them again and see what we can do regarding it. On the adhoc staff, we are using those from the NYSC and the university but we intend to blacklist those who have not done very well in the last election. That’s what we intend to do,” she said.
Meanwhile, NCSSR has called on INEC to put its act together, especially in terms of logistics ahead of the Kogi and Bayelsa states’ governorship elections.
Alternate Chair of NCSSR, a coalition of 70 civil society groups, Mrs. Esther Uzoma, made the call while presenting its report on the observation of the 2019 general election in Abuja yesterday.
Uzoma said that the call became imperative in order to avert postponement of the election and delay in commencement of polls among others as observed in the last elections.
“Moving forward, for the Kogi and Bayelsa gubernatorial elections, we expect INEC to get its act correct concerning deployment of materials particularly logistics.
“Already, Kogi and Bayelsa have certain reputable characteristics.
“They are prone to violence; so, to be forewarned is to be forearmed so we have to start looking at how we can avert that extreme militarisation of the process.
“INEC should ensure there is no postponement, no abrupt start and stop because that creates apathy and charges the atmosphere.
“For Kogi and Bayelsa, we already know what to expect but we call for massive citizens’ participation which is always the panacea,’’ he said.
The Convener of NCSSR, Mr. Clement Nwankwo, said that to effectively observe the 2019 elections, the group deployed 4,000 field observers with additional 20,000 deployed by partners.
Nwankwo said that while the group acknowledged the efforts made by INEC towards credible elections, there were still some adjustments to be made in terms of logistics.
He said the elections saw a record of 73 political parties, though the campaign was robust, several of the candidates on ballot failed to show that they were seriously competing in the elections.
He said there was militarisation of the electoral process as well as questions on the role played by executives and their negative effect on the credibility of the elections.
Nwankwo said going forward for subsequent elections, there was an urgent need for stakeholders to put in place processes to tackle the lapses that had been identified.
He said that there should be an independent inquiry into the poor management of the electoral process by INEC.
Nwankwo said this would help to address among other things challenges of procurement, logistics management, and role of security agents and abuse of process by INEC officials.
He urged INEC to work with CSOs to push for reforms in the electoral process.
According to him, the Electoral Act Amendment Bill declined by the president should be re-introduced early by the National Assembly and transmitted for assent.
Nwankwo said the Electoral Act should include altering Section 68 that gives unquestioning powers to Returning Officers to declare results for an election even where such officer might have done so dubiously or as a result of coercion.
He advised that criminal infractions committed en-route to the declarations of results should also compel the review of results announced from such incidence without requiring that remedial be only possible through litigation at either the election tribunal levels or in courts.
Nwankwo also advised the executives to commit to passing reforms proposed in the bill as well as champion a credible implementation of the recommendations in the 2018 Uwais Panel Report.
He urged the National Assembly to also fast-track the process of passing the Electoral Offences Commission Bill with attention to providing a more credible framework for political finance issues that ensures transparency and accountability.
He said the report would serve as a guide looking ahead to 2023 if expectations were not met in 2019.
He said that the expectations for 2023 were that whatever short-comings in 2019 would be dealt with through the recommendations for a credible 2023 elections.