By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
Barely three years to 2023 general elections, YIAGA AFRICA and partners are set to host a Live TV and virtual citizens’ town hall on electoral reforms June 30.
This was contained in a statement signed by the Executive Director, YIAGA Africa, Samson Itodo, which explained that meaningful electoral reform should address five key agenda including strengthening democratic institutions like Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, political parties, judiciary; guarantee electoral justice; reform political behavior and practice; sanitize the candidates’ nomination process and lastly, protect the integrity of the process.
According to the statement, the town hall virtual meeting is an opportunity for stakeholders to build a national consensus on priority issues for electoral reforms through an inclusive and collaborative process.
The event is hosted by Yiaga Africa and its partners with support from the European Union, EU, and will broadcast live on Channels Television (DSTV channel 254 and GOTV channel 95) and Radio Nigeria network service on June 30, 2020, from 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm.
The event is organized within the framework of the EU Support to democratic governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN) programme with the following EU-SDGN partners; the Albino Foundation, International Press Centre (IPC), Nigerian Women Trust Fund (NWTF), CLEEN Foundation, European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES), Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), Westminster Foundation, National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), BBC Media Action, Institute of Media and Society (IMS) and Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ).
The statement also recalled that the National Assembly began the process of amending the electoral legal framework by introducing bills to amend relevant sections of the Constitution and Electoral Act. In March 2020, the electoral commission released its electoral reform agenda containing over 30 proposed amendments to the 2010 Electoral Act.
The statement reads in part, “As Nigeria continues its efforts to entrench democracy, the threats to democratic consolidation have become more insidious resulting in a sharp decline in electoral integrity.
“Since the 2019 general elections, every off-cycle election conducted by the electoral commission reinforces the fragility of Nigeria’s political system and the imperative of electoral reforms. These reforms if undertaken will improve the quality of public leadership and governance at all levels and also increases public trust in democracy and democratic institutions.
“This is why Yiaga Africa and its partners believe any meaningful reform should address five key agenda namely; strengthen democratic institutions like INEC, political parties, judiciary; guarantee electoral justice; reform political behavior and practice; sanitize the candidates’ nomination process and lastly, protect the integrity of the process.
“The agenda contains key priorities for reforms which include; strengthening the financial autonomy of the electoral commission; conferring INEC with the power and conditions for suspending elections; new timelines for campaigns and candidate nomination; disqualification of unqualified candidates; review of election results declared under duress or made contrary to electoral guidelines; Diaspora voting; electronic accreditation of voters, improved oversight on political parties amongst others. Civil society groups have also proposed amendments to the electoral legal framework.
“These proposals are contained in numerous election observation reports. Achieving these proposals require a mindset shift in conceptualizing electoral reforms, facilitating a consensus among key political actors, and building on a consultative process to aggregate the needs and preferences of society.
“It is against this background that Yiaga Africa and its partners are hosting this live TV and virtual town-hall to promote a national conversation on electoral reforms as the nation prepares for the 2023 general elections. The town hall is an opportunity for critical stakeholders to build consensus on electoral reform priorities. Speakers will be drawn from INEC, National Assembly, Political Parties, Security Agencies, Civil Society, Citizens, Academia, and the entertainment industry.”
It also added that to ensure public participation, the citizens’ town hall will be live-streamed on Channels TV and Yiaga Africa’s pages on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter via #FixElectionsNG. Citizens can send their questions and comments before or during the town hall to Yiaga Africa via SMS or WhatsApp to 09038007744