By Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA— Ahead of the February general elections, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has warned politicians against seeing the process as a do-or-die affair, urging them to see the polls as a means to an end and not an end in itself.
INEC National Commissioner and chairperson of its Election and Party Monitoring Committee, Prof. Antonia Okoosi-Simbine, gave the charge at a workshop on Leadership and Conflict Management Skills for Electoral Stakeholders organised by European Centre for Electoral Support, ECES, in Abuja yesterday.
She said: “Elections and electoral processes are by nature conflicting, fraught with several challenges that often test the skills of staff of Election Management Bodies, EMBs.
‘’This is particularly so in developing democracies where elections are at times perceived as warfare that must be won at all costs. Indeed, a cursory examination of the typical electoral cycle reveals that every phase is fraught with both potential and real dangers.
“Election which is supposed to be a means to an end, that is, good governance is often seen as an end in itself. So much contestation surrounds our elections with little or scant respect for rule of law and due process.”
Project Coordinator of ECES, Rudolf Elbling, said “the training will strengthen the long term capacities of participants and the commission to effectively prevent and mitigate elections related conflicts and its triggers.”
‘’Given the competitive nature of elections, conflicts among stakeholders are bound to occur at various stages of the electoral cycle which must be effectively managed.
‘’In managing these conflicts, there will also be need to resolve disputes among stakeholders through negotiation and mediation, hence the importance to strengthen the electoral administration leadership skills to create the conditions for efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability in their outcomes in areas of institutional capacity building which will in turn improve drastically on the level of integrity and credibility of the electoral process.’’
The training is part of the European Union support for democratic governance in Nigeria, aimed at exploring ways in which electoral stakeholders could improve on their leadership skills and take on board means for identifying, analysing, mitigating and managing the escalation of electoral violence and conflict throughout the respective electoral cycles.