The inconsistencies in the Electoral Act 2010 as Amended again came to the front burner at Osogbo, the Osun State capital during the enlarged South West zonal workshop on the amendment of the Act, organised by the Centre for Democracy and Development with support from the United Nations Development Programme.
The event, meant to sensitize civil societies’ leaders across the six states in the South West, Nigeria, drew participants from Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Ondo, Ekiti and Osun, the host state.
Speaking at the forum, lead facilitator, Dr Laja Odukoya reminded participants that the advocacy of civil societies in Nigeria led to the return of the nation to democratic governance but that the coalition later left the political space to self seeking and greedy politicians, who do not care if the process was thwarted, which he argued, had led to the destruction of democratic values with attendant poverty, primitive accumulation of power and wealth and the coming of governments that are not accountable to the people.
The current crop of political leaders, he reiterated, were only interested in holding on to power for economic benefits and so will do anything to hold on to power, including smuggling clauses that are unpopular and retrogressive into the Electoral Act. This, he opined, was why the civil societies were on the rescue mission on the forthcoming general elections. In his address, the secretary of Osun State Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Mr Nurudeen Ogbara, urged participants to carry on the sensitisation because election riggers will stop at nothing. INEC is headed by a good man, who lacks the capacity to completely stop desperate politicians from rigging, which was why the civil societies must help in alerting Nigerians to the details of the current electoral process, which involves accreditation from 8am to 12noon and elections from 12noon to 4pm, he said.
On the allocation of polling units, Ogbara called on participants’ attention to the need to be vigilant in monitoring polling unit, so that accreditation and election in each polling unit does not exceed the stipulated figure of 500. He urged participants to disregard the directive of the Inspector General of Police, Mr Hafiz Ringim, that voters and monitors should not bring camera and cell phones to election centres, adding that such irresponsible statement should not deter people from making recording and taking photographs that will serve as good source of evidence in case there are manipulations of any sort.
While welcoming participants to the workshop, the Senior Program Officer, Ms Idayat Hassan, said the project was conceptualized to mobilize the over 60 million eligible Nigerian voters to participate in the 2011 general elections. According to her, pre-election violence has been on the rise with hundreds of lives lost or injured, property worth billions of naira destroyed, which are why the political space cannot be left to INEC and politicians alone.