Following its conduct of Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, is poised to further strengthen its cooperation and consultation with Nigeria’s registered Political Parties.
Chairman of the Commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, who acknowledged the role of political parties in deepening democracy said: “New approaches are required to strengthen election management in the country and consequently consolidate our democracy further.”
Speaking further, he said believes this can best be achieved by consultation with stakeholders and political parties are the most critical stakeholders.
He made the remarks yesterday, during a consultative meeting with national chairmen and national secretaries of the 30 registered political parties in Nigeria, at the INEC headquarters, Abuja.
Emphasizing the importance of the meeting, Professor Yakubu explained that 82 Appeal Court-ordered elections will be conducted by INEC between January and March this year. According to him, ‘The first quarter of this year will be a mini general election. That is why this meeting is even more urgent so that we can discuss issues surrounding the conduct of elections so that we can have seamless, effective and conclusive processes,” he said.
He stressed the need for adequate prosecution and punishment for electoral offenders as prescribed by the law, pointing out that as long as electoral offenders are not dealt with, the circle is likely to continue.
Some of the pertinent issues the commission sought the advice and input of the political parties included: violence in the electoral process from campaign to voting and after voting; inconclusiveness of elections; spate of nullifications of elections arising from the 2015 general elections; improvement in technology deployed for the 2015 elections and new innovations going forward; and management of the voting process with regard to accreditation and voting.
The INEC Chairman informed the leadership of the political parties that “while strengthening the Card Reader and the PVCs, which were innovations traduced in 2015, as we approached 2019, we shall move an inch higher by introducing technology in the processes of collation and transmission of results so that the processes will be faster and more accurate.”
He assured the political parties of the continued neutrality of the Commission, saying, “We will remain an unbiased election management body, all political parties have equal status with INEC.”