COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AFTER THE CIVIL SOCIETY COLLOQUIUM AND REPORT UNVEILING HELD IN ABUJA ON WEDNESDAY, MARCH 27, 2018
The Independent Service Delivery Monitoring Group (ISDMG) organized the colloquium to provide an opportunity of interaction between civil society and the INEC Chairman.
The colloquium featured the unveiling of the Report, ‘INEC: BEYOND 2015- Overview, Challenges and Prospects’.
The Executive Director of ISDMG Dr. Chima Amadi gave a welcome address followed by a Keynote address by the INEC Chair.
There were Chat Sessions during which panelists posed critical questions pertaining to INEC preparedness, election security, and the elections generally.
The Book was reviewed by Ledum Mitte. Abdul Mahmud presented the Book while the INEC Chairman unveiled it.
The INEC Chairman welcomed the engagement and said INEC cannot deliver without the active participation of citizens. He assured that INEC was determined to deliver free, fair and credible elections in 2019 and that any INEC staff who compromises would be dealt with according to the law.
ON INEC PREPAREDNESS
The INEC Chairman informed that the commission has virtually finished the planning process involving planning for the election and strategic plan and program of action with two more outstanding elections in Taraba and Bauchi.
The INEC Chairman said INEC has conducted over 178 elections with minimum litigation which is an indication of increased citizens’ confidence in the electoral process.
He said INEC has stabilized the election calendar and made it more predictable. We are moving from uncertainty to certainty; and this makes it possible for people – the media, civil society, political parties and citizens – to plan.
ON CONTINOUS VOTER REGISTRATION
The INEC Chair said in compliance with the requirements of the law, the commission has been conducting continuous voter registration (CVR). The commission has been taking CVR very seriously realizing that CVR should not be tied to elections. It enables young men who have attained 18 years to register. He said that the commission has been decentralizing the voting points to ease the problems encountered by citizens who go out to register. He said additional registration centres have been opened beyond the LGAs. With the efforts so far, w will no longer be talking about CVR in 2023.
He solicited the support of the media and civil society in sensitizing and mobilizing citizens for the CVR exercise.
The INEC Chairman promised that the total number of registered citizens will be on the INEC website in the coming days and assured that 2019 election will be better than the 2015 election. ”For me, INEC work is a calling not a job and I cannot afford to fail Nigerians”, Professor Yakubu added.
INEC Chairman said the commission places more emphasis on citizens colleting their PVCs rather than on distribution. This is because INEC is minded to ensure that these PVCs don’t get into the wrong hands. He explained that most of those whose PVCs are yet to be collected are mainly students of tertiary institutions whom have graduated and left before their cards were ready, civil servants on transfer and those who have died.
He said INEC is working with Telecoms companies to get them to assist through sending bulk SMS inviting citizens to go and collect their PVCs. He also said INEC has a portal where citizens can cheek the status of their registration.
He said INEC will continue to make efforts to enhance the credibility of elections by ensuring that results are transmitted to the collation centres electronically to reduce the chances of manipulation of election results between the polling units and the collation centres as has been the case.
ON THE SEQUENCE OF ELECTIONS
The INEC Chair said there is no lacuna in the legal framework for elections and that all that INEC has done with regards to setting the election timetable has been done in line with the existing law. We are proceeding on the basis of the existing law.
ON COLLATION OFFICERS
The INEC Chair said that the commission decided to be drawing collation officers from the university because the university, compared to other sectors, is perceived as more credible. However, he said the commission is open to suggestions on otter sectors the commission can draw people from to be used as collation officers.
ON ELECTION SECURITY
The INEC Chair said the commission has always received assurances from heads of security agencies at the inter-agency election security committee meetings that all was well. However, he said sudden changes from security agencies often affect INEC’s own preparations.
Participants, considering the commitment of the INEC leadership to continuously improve on the electoral process and his consistency in following the electoral law, passed a vote of confidence on the INEC Chair and urged other stakeholders, especially, politicians and security agencies to be alive to their own obligations with regard to election security and integrity. Civil society commits to continue to support INEC in its efforts to ensure a more credible election in 2019.
i). Participants recommend that INEC engages with the Media and CSOs as pivotal instruments of voter mobilization;
ii). Participants recommend that INEC engages all stakeholders in the Continuous Voters Registration Process;
iii). Participants recommend that Nigerians should be encouraged to own the election process;
iv). Participants recommend that the Electoral Register be cleaned out to reflect the transparent framework of election management in Nigeria
1. Dr. Chima Amadi – Independent Service Delivery Monitoring Group
2. Ledum MiteeFormer – MOSOP President
3. Lanre Arogundade – International Press Centre
4. Okechukwu Nwanguma – Network of Police Reform in Nigeria
5. Ezenwa Nwagwu – Partners for Electoral Reforms
6. Esther Uzoma – The Proactive Gender Initiative
7. Samson Itodo – Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement
8. Oluajo Babatunde – Centre for Transparency Advocacy
9. Ms. Faith Nwadishi – Independent Service Delivery Monitoring Group
10. MacDonald Ekemezie – Koyenum Immalah Foundation