By Margaret Mwantok
Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has promised to enforce inclusiveness, transparency and accountability to deliver credible elections in 2019.
Speaking as guest lecture at Realnews’ sixth anniversary, he said: “INEC is deeply committed to democratic elections in the belief that the outcome can contribute to political stability and consolidation of democracy, which will foster rapid economic progress.”
Yakubu, who is also President, Governing Board of the ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC), explained that INEC would “continue to think innovatively and consolidate on several tools.”He said this would be used to address emerging challenges to the delivery of credible elections in Nigeria, whose registered voters are more than the populations of several African countries combined.
He, however, stressed that the commission could not do the job alone, but counts on the goodwill and collaboration of other stakeholders.
The INEC boss identified seven challenges that could impact smooth electoral process in Nigeria. He cited the “Do-or-die mentality of some members of the political class, “Vote buying,” “Lack of internal democracy within political parties” and “Incendiary speech” by political actors.
He added: “Election security is beyond the responsibilities and capabilities of INEC,” “Impunity and lack of consequences for electoral offenders,” which he said, could be addressed through the establishment of Electoral Offences Commission/Tribunal for easy disposal of election cases.He also mentioned the ever-increasing number of “litigation and conflicting court orders,” which require the attention of the commission.
Also, United Nations Special Envoy and Head, UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel, Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, cautioned political actors and the media.He urged them to bear in mind that “elections in Africa’s most populated country and largest economy have implications for the entire continent and beyond.
“Accurate and dispassionate reporting of electoral events will help to educate the electorate and contribute towards informed choice from among competing candidates.”On the other hand, biased reporting and deliberate falsehoods (fake news) could contribute to distorting the choices of the voters and election-related violence, while “hate speech leads ultimately to hateful acts.”
Veteran Nigerian journalist, Dr. Haroun Adamu, who chaired the lecture themed: Political Transitions and Africa’s Economic Development, urged online publications to positively impact “the minds, hearts and ultimately, the fingers of voters in achieving a desired outcome.”