By Clifford Ndujihe
LAGOS—SOME critical stakeholders including the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Transition Monitoring Group, TMG, Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, yesterday, identified insecurity, paucity of funds, hate speech, legal framework, lack of internal democracy in political parties and vote-buying among others as threats to the 2019 general polls.
Specifically, Mr. Falana, who lamented that Nigeria is speedily becoming a laughing-stock in the comity of democratic nations on account of vote-buying during elections, urged the INEC to use the forthcoming Ekiti and Osun governorship elections to implement the law against vote-buying.
They spoke in Lagos at the Civil Society organisations and the media round-table on the 2019 election, which was organised by the TMG.
Sections 124 and 130 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) clearly criminalises the act of vote-buying as bribery and conspiracy.
Noting that nobody has been punished for flouting this law, Falana, told reporters after delivering a speech at the roundtable, that foreign election observers, who usually observe votes-buying in Nigeria, are laughing at the country.
He stressed that something must be done starting with the Ekiti and Osun governorship polls.
Mr. Oluwole Osaze Uzzi, INEC Director, Voter Education and Publicity, concurred with Falana.
He also added that hate speech was another threat to credible elections and solicited the support of the CSOs and the Media to address the problem
He noted that before the 2006 amendment of the electoral act the INEC did not have a specified role on voter education and even though it is doing so now, much still depends on the media and CSOs. ‘’Awareness of citizens’ power through the PVC is largely due to the media and CSOs support.
Femi Falana, who mentioned how guerrila journalism shaped things in the country, said: “We don’t need guerrila journalism. We have social media, which is prone to misuse. People see and post things without scrutiny. this is very dangerous in terms of hate speech. INEC is working to see how it can collaborate with the media to tackle hate speech.”
Other personalities, who spoke at the event, included TMG, Chairperson, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, Mr. Roomy Mom, Dr Ode Adiya, Mr. Lanre Arogunadade, and Mr. Jide Ojo.