Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
A coalition of election observers has called the National Assembly to rework the constitution to empower the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to sanction parties boycotting elections in the country.
The call the refusal of some political parties, including the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), to participate in the December 4 Local Government Elections in Ekiti State.
The CSOs also warned the traditional rulers to stop anointing candidates for elections in order to avoid heating up the polity and desecrating the traditional institution in the country.
The coalition also praised the State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC), security agencies, political parties, Ekiti voters and traditional institution for their readiness to participate and ensure the success of the Saturday’s chairmanship and councillorship elections.
The Ekiti State accredited Domestic Civil Society Election Observers (DCSEO) described boycott of elections by parties as an act of sabotage.
The team leader, Mr. Victor Kalu, said: “It is surprising that the opposition parties will be staying away from local government elections after requesting for it on the fear that the process is already predetermined. If a political party boycotts an election, it is like going on hunger strike, which someone has no reason to do.
“Rather than staging a boycott, they should use local government elections to test their strength. If any party boycotts election, there should be a sanction. We are making our recommendations to the National Assembly on the need to spell out punitive measures in our Electoral Act to correct this.”
Kalu added that the Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, deserved commendation for showing preference for democratic structures at the third tier of government, saying that some states have failed to conduct local government elections for eight or 16 years.
“Election is not a do or die affair. Politicians should, therefore, approach these elections with high level of civility and patriotism. They should see themselves as part of the society they want to lead and they must not destroy it with their ambition to rule or lead by all means.
“Traditional rulers should be neutral, unbiased and independent even as they exercise their rights to vote for a candidate of their choice as an individual, not as an institution. They should, therefore, desist from anointing candidates and causing their subjects to toe their line of choice,” kalu said.
He promised that the observers would monitor the elections painstakingly and come up with unbiased report that would help in strengthening the electoral process.
He appealed to Justice Jide Aladejana-led electoral commission in Ekiti to provide a level playing ground for the six political parties that would participate in the polls.
To avoid voter apathy during the elections, the observers tasked the political parties to mobilise the voters for the elections and elucidate the reasons why they must exercise their franchise.