Acting Chairperson of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Amina Zakari, has assured that the Commission will use the opportunity presented by the forthcoming Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections to continue to display its improved processes and rigour.
Hajiya Zakari gave the assurance while delivering keynote address during the public presentation of the Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room report on 2015 general elections, with support from British Department for International Development. The event was held at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel Abuja.
Hajiya Zakari explained that the commission would apply lessons learnt from previous elections in raising the bar during the Kogi and Bayelsa States polls.
The election in Kogi State is scheduled for Saturday, November 21, while that of Bayelsa State will hold on Saturday, December 5.
She said, “In conducting elections in both states, the Commission will apply lessons learnt from the previous elections beginning with the stand alone governorship elections in Anambra, Ekiti and Osun states, and the general elections”.
The tenures of Governors Idris Wada of Kogi State and Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa expire on January 27 and February 14, 2016, respectively.
Like in Ondo, Ekiti, Edo and Osun States, governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi States did not hold during the last general elections, following the nullification of previous polls by the court and conduct of fresh ones in the states.
Mrs. Zakari said the Commission would continue to encourage participation in the electoral process. She said INEC would carry out continuous voter’s registration exercise in both states, and “those registered will have their cards printed in timely fashion and voters’ transfers will also be supported for those two states.”
She called for continued support from development partners and civil society organisations towards improving the electoral process.
She assured Nigerians, “INEC in partnership with the key stakeholders in the political parties, security and civic organizations will strive to ensure that both elections in Kogi and Bayelsa are transparent and well run.”
The Acting Chairperson warned that electoral malpractice would not be tolerated, as the electoral body will continue to drive transparency and effectiveness.
“Any INEC official found wanting in the tribunals will be punished to the full extent of the law,” she said.
She disclosed the commission’s transitional plans needed to lay the foundation for the future.
The key areas she mentioned include a continued drive for improvement of our internal processes; staff re-orientation and training; push for recommendations to the National Assembly on electoral reforms such as ballot access restrictions to reduce voter confusion and diaspora voting; increased use of technology building on the card reader and e-Track processes introduced in 2015; improved internal and external communications to drive improved awareness with the public and staff; and a continued inclusive process with all stakeholders (political parties, civic organizations, security personnel, the NYSC and others.
The high point of the event was the presentation of an achievement award to the immediate past chairman of INEC, Attahiru Jega, by the Situation Room of the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre.