13th September, 2010
Signs that the forthcoming 2011 general elections will be a clear departure from what obtains in the recent past became very visible as Prof Jega has stated that the electoral; body will no longer fund the activities of civil society groups engaged in monitoring of election exercise.
The INEC boss made this statement today during a courtesy visit by members of the Save Nigeria Group led by its leader, Pastor Tunde Bakare. He also stated that the electoral body may consider using the modified Open Secret Ballot System in the conduct of the forth coming election if it falls within the ambit of the legal framework for the polls.
Pastor Bakare had called on INEC to ensure that election officers are not members of political parties but free agents adding and also expressed concerned over the process through which INEC accredits monitors for elections, stating that it had come to his groupâ€™s attention that the public affairs sections in INEC offices in some states are allegedly compiling list of election monitors from Governorâ€™s offices.
But the INEC Chairman pointed out that the practice of footing election observer bills is part of the problems of the past as these organizations just participate as election observers so they can get money from INEC and we believe that it has to change. â€œIf you are a serious Civil Society Organization and you want to do serious observation then you should have the capacity to raise your own resources to be able to do thatâ€ Jega said.
In the recent past, the Independent National Election Commission foots the bill of civil society organizations which were assembled to monitor election exercises across the nation but with this current position, the electoral body, while not opposing the desires of civil society groups to monitor polls, will not bankroll their monitoring activities.
Prof Jega promised to look into the issues raised by the visiting Save Nigeria Group as regards to the issue of type of procedure to be adopted for the polls noting however that for now, that the only available option open to the commission is the system known as open secret ballot system. He promised to weigh the cost benefit of the groupâ€™s proposed modified open secret ballot system with a view to giving the proposal the consideration it deserves.
Jega also stated that the commission is putting in place a mechanism that seeks to change the attitude of her workers by putting in place checks and balances to ensure that former problems of staff colluding with party agents to rig elections are check mated.
On electoral offenders, Prof Jega said that the right examples will be set to make people know that they would no longer commit electoral offences and get away with it. â€œWe will do our best to ensure that these problems are addressed squarely. On the issue of electoral officers or Resident Electoral Commissioners conniving with state Governors or other contestants in order to sell votes or send in fraudulent results, we are as a commission will never endorse fraudulent results and then we cannot see how anybody will do it and we will allow it. We will stop it and if people still persist, then we will catch them and they will have to face the law. We will continue to be steadfastâ€ he says.