By Chioma Onuegbu, Uyo
RESIDENT Electoral Commissioner, REC, Akwa Ibom state, Mr. Mike Igini yesterday said that campaign funds when unregulated during electioneering, limits opportunity for candidates to compete equally.
Igini who stated this yesterday at the opening of a 2-day retreat to review a draft report on campaign Finance tracking for the last general elections, revealed that the finance tracking exercise of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was much better in the 2019 general elections than in 2015.
He explained that the oversight function of the commission among other things includes to regulate income and expenditure of political parties and their candidates.
His words, “When the Commission performs this regulatory function adequately, it ensures that the will of the people is protected and not subverted by the use of money with impunity among the political parties.
“It is our hope that the political class are also not strategizing and inventing new ways of circumventing the regulations of the Commission. Unregulated use of campaign funds in an electoral environment, limits the opportunity for candidates to compete equally.
“And candidates who win elections under a very permissive unregulated use of campaign funds are less accountable to the electorate and more responsive to the needs of their campaign contributors”
In her remarks, National Commissioner in-charge of Election and Party Monitoring of INEC, Prof. Anthonia Simbine noted that the funding for the 2019 campaign finance tracking equally increased to a commendable level due to improvement in the training of the Elections and monitoring campaign finance trackers.
She stressed that, ahead of the 2019 general elections several activities were put in place including engaging in aggressive capacity building for staff especially at the states’ level.
“We have added value to where we were in 2015.We had a lot of capacity and knowledge sharing workshops for political party’s executives on relevantce of keeping adequate and comprehensive records.
“We also reviewed the tracking and reporting forms that are supposed to facilitate easy tracking of campaign finance expenditure both by candidates as well as political parties”, Simbine said.
The retreat was attended by INEC National Commissioners, Directors of Elections and Parties Monitoring (EPM), Heads of Department of EPM from the six geo-political zones, Developing partners including International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) and European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES), among others.