CVL, ICPC Hold Discourse on Ethics And Standards in Electoral Process in Nigeria

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Tuesday, April 16, 2019 / 12.00PM / Bukola Akinyele for Proshare WebTV

 

Achieving a credible electoral process in Nigeria, that applies the ethics and standards required is not the sole responsibility of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC the electoral body. 

This was a major takeaway from the recent discourse on “Anti-Corruption and Accountability in the Electoral Process in Nigeria” hosted recently  by the Centre for Values and Leadership in partnership with the Independent Corrupt Practices & Related Offences Commission in Lagos. 

Chairman of the ICPC Professor Bolaji Owasanoye in his presentation outlined the characteristics of “Anti-Corruption and Accountability in the Electoral Process” which include the following;

  • Perpetuity- Which means  the institutions responsible for a credible electoral process must have perpetual existence which must be established by law.
  • The appointment and composition of the key players of the governing board or commissioners, must be transparent.
  • There must be security and stability of tenure
  • There must be protection on the actions that are taken by the institutions from the influence of desperate politicians.
  • There must be power to hire and fire  people that  work in the institutions
  • There must be operational autonomy for the institution
  • There must be financial autonomy for the institutions


Table 1 Nigerian Corruption Index Ranking

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Source: Transparency International, Proshare

 

On making progress in the electoral process in Nigeria, Professor Owasanoye  highlighted what he considered as key issues that should be taken into consideration, which include;

  • When and how funds are appropriated
  • How much power and control is given over decision making
  • How truly are those decisions implemented by staff
  • How much control e.g. securities agencies
  • The capacity to prosecute infractions and offences in the electoral process
  • General perceptions about the rule of law
  • Addressing a very weak and dysfunctional criminal justice system
  • The Role of the Media- The role of the media cannot be overemphasized because they set an agenda to the public to be inform and educate the public .
  • The Role of Political Parties: The role that political parties are playing is critical towards stabilizing the polity and electoral process.
  • Limitation of electoral expenses and monitoring of financing of political parties is crucial to tackling corrupt practices during the electoral process.
  • The Role of Securities Agencies- Security Agencies are vital to the success of the electoral process and must remain professional and avoid being partisan e.g the police and the military


Speaking further the ICPC Chairman gave an update on the ways in which the ICPC has been collaborating with the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC which include the following areas;

  •  Working out robust measures with INEC  with clear strategies that will see more proactive  than reactionary steps in the electoral process.
  • Working together to look at the weak links and the weak points in the entire process, with a view to adopting technology and  digitization to improve the process.
  • Partnering with INEC to constantly review the legal framework for the electoral process


Presenting the CVL report on the “Ethics and Standards in Electoral Process in Nigeria” a Mac Arthur Foundation Election and Accountability project 2018 Mr Rasheed Adegbenro the Vice-President, Strategy & Development, established the fact that achieving free and fair elections goes beyond the Independent National Eelctoral Commission.

Mr Adegbenro stressed the need for cooperation by stakeholders in the electoral process, to guarantee that future elections are free and fair as well free from corruption, are transparent and that elected persons are accountable to the electorate.

Some of the key recommendations from the report supported by the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, PLAC as it concerns relevant agencies and stakeholders include;


INEC

  • The electoral body should be removed from the list of Federal Executive Bodies, to be free from any form of financial encumbrance
  • Ensure that standards and procedures for issuing, processing, researching and counting provisional ballots are clear, transparent, public and uniform.
  • Develop a method for evaluating how well poll workers are following provisional voting procedures to determine if poll worker error contributed to any provisional ballot not being counted
  • The need for effective training and recruitment of Ad-hoc Staff.

Judiciary

  • There should be adequate time between resolution of conflicts and swearing in of elected officials; Section 134 (2) and (3) of the Electoral Act 2010 and Section 285(6) and (7) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Section 285(6) and (7) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) should be reviewed such that election tribunal cases are expedited.
  • Judges should adhere strictly to the rules of the Electoral Act in resolution of Post election petitions.

 

EFCC (Economic Financial Crimes Commission)

  • Through Intelligence gathering, EFCC should ensure that candidates and their political parties do not spend above the stipulated money recommended for campaigns and elections.
  • EFCC through its department should ensure that politicians are informed on laws regarding political corruption in Nigeria.


Electorate

  • Citizens should not allow themselves to be used by politicians to perpetrate violence
  • Citizens are stakeholders and should be involved in the electoral process

 

Political Parties

  • There should be adequate period by parties to select party representatives at each level of election
  • Adopt provisions in party constitution that require increased reprentation of women and persons with disabilities in parties executive committees
  • Encourage youth candidacy by free nomination

 

The Nigerian Police Force

  • The police should be guided by and conform to appropriate principles, rules, code of ethics and laws governing police duties, especially in relation to crowd control and use of firearms.
  • Police officers should maintain impartiality, and eschew partisanship or discrimination between the ruling and non-ruling, big or small parties.

 

MEDIA

  • The media should help to build enlightened electorate. Public enlightenment is a pre-requisite for free and fair elections
  • The Nigerian Broadcasting Commission and private and state-owned media outlets should strictly enforce and adhere to regulations on media neutrality and take steps against hate messaging and misinformation in the media.

 

National Orientation Agency

  • The NOA should collaborate effectively with NGOs on Voter education
  • NOA should come up with various programmes that would enhance electoral awareness.
  • NOA should develop a document on electioneering that will be translated into major Nigerian languages.


NON Governmental Organizations

  • NGOs should play an active role in monitoring campaign finance and the pre and post election periods.
  • NGOs should be actively involved in voter education and advocacy
  • NGOs should also come up with pre-election programmes such as debates for candidates so as to re-emphasize the need for free, fair and credible elections
  • NGOs should audit performance of elected officials at all levels of government and Ministers.


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