May 24, 2024

IPC, stakeholders dialogue on rebuilding trust in Nigeria’s electoral system

IPC, stakeholders dialogue on rebuilding trust in Nigeria’s electoral system

By Ibrahim Hassan-Wuyo

The International Press Centre, IPC and other stakeholders including the leadership of INEC, Political Parties represented by the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), key institutions such as the National Orientation Agency, NOA and others, have deliberated on how to build trust among the citizens in Nigeria’s electoral system.

Speaking at a One-day Multi-stakeholders Dialogue on Rebuilding Trust in the Electoral Processes, Institutions, and Elections, held in Kaduna- Nigeria, a University Don, Prof. Dung Pam Sha who was the keynote Speaker at the dialogue, identified sources of trust deficit in the system which he said could lead to loss of public/voter citizen’s confidence in the electoral process, electoral institutions and the government and its institutions.

According to him, ” the roles played by stakeholders have created situations where trust has broken down. The action of the election management body by not handling the process well especially the transmission of results became a major issue. The political parties lacking internal democracy leads to lots of political challenges; imposing candidates on their party, how some of them captured their political party machinery. The roles of politicians who manipulated the processes at various levels either during primaries or during the general elections, vote buying, rigging Everyone has a problem, what we need to do is to address these challenges,” he said.

Chairman of the occasion and Director, Center for Democratic Development, Research and Training, Dr Abubakar Siddique Mohammed called on the political class to clean up its act, correct past mistakes and avoid rigging during elections.

“Many observations have been made during the last general elections, we should go back and look at those anomalies and correct them. INEC alone cannot manage an electoral process, you have the political parties, politicians, government, judiciary and people who all have roles to play. If you have an electoral process where leaders are determined to rig election, INEC cannot stop them…Political parties should engage in internal party democracy,” he advised.

Special Adviser to INEC Chairman, Prof. Muhammad Kuna, who spoke on behalf of INEC noted that each election came with its own different challenges be it general elections or off-cycle elections.” You have to ensure that there are security agencies to keep security. Security of personnel, security of materials, security of elections are vital. Everybody want to win and they want to win by any means including rigging, vote buying, ballot box snatching and so on. It’s not just the Commission that should provide political enlightenment but even political parties need to educate the voters,” he said.

Earlier in his welcome address,Mr. Lanre Arogundade, Executive Director of International Press Centre (IPC), Lagos-Nigeria said the dialogue which was the third in the series after earlier ones in Abuja and Lagos, was in response to some of the matters arising from the conduct of the 2023 general elections.

“As we do know, while the elections recorded commendable landmarks, particularly in terms of meticulous planning and the use of voting technology via BVAS, it also had challenges some of which have created doubts in the minds of sections of the electorate. Indeed, what can be deduced from the various comments and opinions is that trust and confidence issues about the electoral processes, electoral institutions, and elections have to be urgently addressed because they are essential for ensuring the desired participation of citizens in activities that can lead to credible elections.”

He said the dialogue was on how do they continue to build trust in the electoral processes? “How do we ensure that citizens go out to register and collect their PVCs? How do we ensure that they vote even after collecting their PVCs? What are our roles and responsibilities in providing the enabling environment for popular participation in elections as critical stakeholders?”

“The challenge of finding answers to these questions and perhaps many other ones is the main reason for our gathering today under the auspices of Component 4b: Support to Media of the European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria, phase two project (EU-SDGNII).”

“IPC is confident that your presence here today will ensure that we find the right answers to these questions. In this regard, we wish to commend Prof. Dung Pam Sha for agreeing to be the lead speaker and also thank Dr. Abubakar Siddique Mohammed for accepting to be the chairman of this dialogue,” he said.

Participants at the .occasion included Hamisu Abubakar Mayere, State Director, National Orientation Agency (NOA) Kaduna;
Hon. Ahmad Tijani Mustapha, Kaduna State IPAC Chairman, Mukhtar Zubairu Sirajo, immediate past President of NIPR,
CP Ali Audu Dabigi, the Commissioner of Police, Kaduna who was represented by ASP Mansir Hassan the PPRO Kaduna State Police Command);
Hajiya Yawo Halilu, Kaduna NUJ Chairperson and Prof. Muhammad Kuna, Special Adviser to INEC Chairman.

Also were Fatima Aliyu, Kaduna NAWOJ Chairperson, Malam Ibrahim Kufena, Secretary, Jamaatul Nasril Islam (JNI) Kaduna; Dr Micah Shabi, Improvement in Respect to the Social Status of the Disabled (IRSD); Seth Luke, OpenGov Youth Innovation Hub (Youth repr); Barrister Godwin O. Ochain, Chairman of Kaduna State branch of NBA, among others.