By CALEB AYANSINA
ABUJA – The Chairperson of the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, yesterday, questioned the rationale used by the Federal Government in the nomination of the Resident Electoral Commissioners of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), saying it lacks gender balance.
Last week, the Presidency wrote to the Senate, seeking the screening and confirmation of 27 nominees as INEC Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs in line with Section 14 (3) of the third schedule of the 1999 Constitution.
Reacting to this, Akiyode-Afolabi, who lauded the step, however “expressed concern about issues relating to the parameters for nominating persons for such position.”
In a statement signed by the TMG Programs Officer, Olusola Babalola, in Abuja, the Chairperson of TMG maintained that such nomination demands person with extensive experience in elections engagement, adding that it must not be “left at the prerogative of chief executives of states or other considerations where the allegiance of its beneficiaries are not to a transparent and credible electoral management process but to the biddings of their benefactors.”
She said that “TMG is taken aback by the total lack of gender balance in the nominations,” stating that “only two women nominations out of the 29 RECs, is a far cry from the required 35% affirmative action, pledged in the National Gender Policy towards gender integration in public life in the country.
“This singular act goes a long way to undermine the progress made so far in engendering women’s participation in electoral processes and democracy.
“TMG emphasises that the absence of women on the management and decision making structure of the commission could have far reaching implications for the participation of women in future elections as key processes and reforms within the commission might not adequately capture or reflect any considerations for women.”
Akiyode-Afolabi further noted that it is not too late to correct this anomaly, calling on “the Presidency to take the necessary steps to immediately address the situation.”
The group also called for a thorough and transparent screening process, to ensure that persons of questionable characters or politically exposed persons do not find their way into the commission, and undermine the progress the commission had made in recent times in getting the right personnel, for managing elections and its independence.
“TMG calls for a timely consideration and conclusion of the much-needed reforms in the constitution and electoral act as regards the conduct of elections as we approach the 2019 general elections. This will enable all stakeholders including political parties to internalise the new provisions and prepare adequately for the elections.
“On the part of the Commission, TMG congratulates INEC for early release of the 2019 Elections time table and calls on INEC to continue to engage stakeholders and the citizens, as we look forward to an election that responds to the aspirations of Nigerians in the determination of their democratic choices,” she said.