By Okon Bassey
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has revealed that the commission’s finance tracking exercise during the 2019 general election was much better than in 2015.
The National Commissioner in charge of Election and Party Monitoring of INEC, Prof. Antonia Simbine, and the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Akwa Ibom State, Mr Mike Igini, disclosed this Wednesday at a retreat to review a draft report on campaign finance tracking for the 2019 general election in the country.
Also, the commission noted that the funding for the 2019 campaign finance tracking equally increased to a commendable level as there was improvement in the training of the elections and parties monitoring campaign finance trackers.
Simbine said: “We have moved the ship of campaign finance much further than what we met. We have added value to where we were in 2015.”
To achieve this feat, she explained that ahead of the 2019 general election in the country, several activities were put in place including engaging in aggressive capacity building for staff especially at the states’ level.
“We had a lot of capacity and knowledge sharing workshops for political party’s executives on the relevance of keeping adequate and comprehensive records.
“We also reviewed the tracking and reporting forms that are supposed to facilitate easy tracking of campaign finance expenditure both by candidates as well as political parties,” she said.
On his part, Igini warned that fundraising, sources and usage of campaign funds, when not regulated, could undermine the electoral process by creating uneven political playing field which skews the electoral process in favour of wealthy candidates and political parties.
He argued that unregulated use of campaign funds in an electoral environment limits the opportunity for candidates to compete equally, and candidates who win elections under a very permissive unregulated use of campaign funds are less accountable to the electorate and more responsive to the needs of their campaign contributors.
The Akwa Ibom REC maintained that the oversight function of the commission, which among other things is to regulate election income and expenditure of political parties and their candidates, is to ensure transparency and accountability.
“When the commission performs this regulatory function adequately, it ensures that the will of the people is protected and not subverted by the use of money with impunity among the parties.
“It is our hope that the political class are also not strategizing and inventing new ways of circumventing the regulations of the commission,” Igini said.
The two-day retreat, which started Tuesday, was attended by INEC National Commissioners, Directors of Elections and Parties Monitoring (EPM), Heads of Department of EPM from the six geo-political zones, developing partners including International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) and European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES), among other groups.