5th November, 2018
Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has called for a close partnership with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to improve the electoral process in the country.
Yakubu made the call while declaring open a one-day INEC-CSOs Zonal Dialogue on the 2019 General Elections (Southern Edition) in Enugu on Monday.
The dialogue was organised by the European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES).
Yakubu was represented by Mr Festus Okoye, a National Commissioner in charge of Publicity in the commission.
The chairman said that as the 2019 general elections was drawing near, the engagement between CSOs and the commission would be more regular.
“I must not fail to state that the CSOs partnership with the commission has been of tremendous help in strengthening the electoral process.
“This, they have done through their observation reports, advocacy for a better legal framework and mobilisation of citizens to cast their votes in an informed manner.
“These the issues, the commission regards as appropriate and good in shaping and defining policies.
“Your ideas and suggestion have also contributed immensely in drawing up the commission’s guidelines, manuals and regulations.
“This meeting is not just to share ideas, but to share knowledge and experiences from the people committed to the sustenance of democracy,’’ he said.
According to him, it is a fact that elections are funded and conducted with public funds, therefore, the activities of election management bodies are to be subjected to public scrutiny.
Yakubu called on CSOs to use the avenue of the dialogue to interrogate and proffer solutions on a wide number of issues bordering on proper conduct of elections.
“Such issues as vote buying, internal party democracy and more especially, gender inclusiveness and Persons With Disabilities (PWD) representation, which have consistently remained low in spite of efforts of the Commission and other stakeholders.
“In doing this, you will be adding value to the system, and also protect the collective interest of the people you represent,’’ the chairman said.
In a goodwill message, Mr Emeka Ononamadu, INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner for Enugu State, appreciated ECES for supporting INEC in its quest to better the electoral process and deliver on its mandate.
“INEC will continue to work with the CSOs and ECES to bring practical solutions on emerging challenges.
“INEC is poised in organising free, fair and credible elections to make for a better society,’’ Ononamadu said.
Earlier, the Project Coordinator of ECES, Mr Rudolf Elbling, said that it was gratifying that INEC remained committed towards strengthening its partnership with CSOs across the country at the various stages of the electoral process.
“The conduct of this zonal dialogue and the next one slated for Kano next week, point to this commitment.
“It is my hope that these zonal dialogues will equip the CSOs with the necessary information on their expected roles in the 2019 election and also avail INEC of the much-needed feedback to improve the electoral process.
“ECES is proud to be part of this worthy initiative and wish to assure INEC of its commitment to continue to support its engagements with critical stakeholders within the context of the European support to democratic governance in Nigeria,’’ Elbling said.