Chuks Okocha in Abuja
In a post-election analysis, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has urged the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to resuscitate the implementation of its first phase of Support to Democratic Empowerment (SDE) in Nigeria.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, revealed this yesterday when he received the UNDP new Resident Representative to Nigeria, Mohammed Yahaya, who paid a courtesy visit to the Commission in Abuja.
SDE is aimed at enlightening and mobilising stakeholders, including the women groups, youths, traditional and religious leaders, to participate massively in general election.
The programme is also to conduct civic and voter education as part of the media campaign in order to sensitise and create awareness among the citizens for effective participation in general election.
The INEC chairman explained that the programme should have commenced in 2018 but was suspended due to the challenges of time and funding.
According to Yakubu , “There is one pending issue that we need to resuscitate immediately, which is the implementation of the Support to Democratic Empowerment (SDE) Phase one.
“The implementation should have commenced in May 2018 through to December 2019. The plan was not fully implemented for a number of reasons, but essentially the pressure on time on the Commission because of general election as well as the issue of funding.
“I am glad to note that the plan is being revised by our technical teams. I look forward to the work of the two teams. I wish to once again reassure you that we will jointly implement the recommendations in the current electoral circle and beyond.”
Yakubu described the UN and UNDP in particular as long term partners in support of elections, good governance and democracy in Nigeria.
He said INEC valued their partnership, and it would continue to work with UNDP in promoting democracy and good governance.
Yakubu recalled that in 2017, the UN Secretary-General sent a Need Assessment Mission to Nigeria as well as the Special Representative for West African and the Shahel, Mohammed Chambas, who also visited before and after the last general election.
He said: “We profoundly appreciate the support of the union and its agencies in promoting peaceful elections and good governance in Nigeria. We have worked closely with the UNDP in many areas since 2011.
“These include technically and advisory support for voter registration in 2011; the formulation and validation of the commission gender policy; the formulation, validation and revalidation of the commission’s communication policy, and support to voter education and publicity.
“Induction and retraining for new Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) in Uyo in 2017; the printing of two volumes election project plan in 2018, and many other activities to build capacity of the commission both technical and human are parts of the areas we have worked with our partners
“I want to reassure you of our continue willingness to collaborate, cooperate and work in partnership with you. We will extend the support to you that we have extended to all your predecessors.’’
The UNDP Resident Representative,
Yahaya, had pledged the organisation’s continuous support and engagement with INEC in deepening credible elections and democracy in Nigeria.
He said the UNDP recognised INEC as a critical institution to deepen democracy in Nigeria.
According to him, “For UNDP globally, electoral commissions have been a key part for the work we do-deepening democracy and delivering the voices of those who have voted in a way that is credible and transparent.
“So, the work that you (commissioners and chairperson) do is critical for the democratisation to take its root in this country and across the continent. For me, coming here is one of the key aspects of my duties.
“I want to thank you and your team for the work you have done in the past, but also to congratulate you for delivering 2019 general election, as well as listening and learning from the experiences that you had in the last circle and what we can do together as we move forward.’’
Asked of his agenda in Nigeria, Yahaya said the UNDP would supports Nigeria’s plans, including making the INEC stronger.
“We are a leading development agency in the UN system, specifically the work on governance and reduction of poverty. For today’s engagement, we are focus on how to engage INEC to make it stronger than it is,’’ he said.