By Kingsley Omonobi
ABUJA—America-based National Democratic Institute, NDI, has said for free and fair elections to be held in Nigeria come 2011, many of the shortcomings of previous elections must be addressed.
Consequently, it urged the National Assembly’s passage of a legislation adopting recommendations by the Justice Uwais Committee and a submission to it by the executive branch, to create an electoral offences commission or other such entity in order to prosecute electoral offenders.
Speaking after a deliberation with stakeholders on the 2011 elections and assessment of preparations for the elections, the NDI team, led by Joe Clark, former Prime Minister of Australia and Ketumile Masire, former President of Botswana, urged INEC to consider creating an inter-party dialogue mechanism that would meet regularly during all stages of the electoral process at the national, states, local government and ward levels, as it was done in other places.
Such inter-party dialogues, the NDI said, include South Africa ’s Peace Committees, Ghana’s Inter-Party Advisory Committee, and Sierra Leone ’s Political Party Liaisons Committee which had played key roles in reducing election-related tensions in those countries.
In the area of security, the team said “security agencies should insist that all officers must remain neutral and avoid intimidating voters. They should ensure that priority during elections is aimed at protecting civilians and should stress that disciplinary actions would be taken against any and all officers who use their powers to favour any political party or candidate or to harm the electoral rights of any party, candidate or citizen.”