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2023: CSO Urges INEC to Unbundle Technical Department to Guarantee Credible Polls

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Civil society organisation and election monitoring group, Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), has maintained that for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct free and credible elections in 2023, it must summon the courage to dismantle its current technical department to consolidate on its ongoing reforms.

 

The group also warned that if the advice was not heeded, the INEC would continue to harbour moles just as it would continue to experience technical hitches that might cause the commission serious embarrassment and put its credibility into question.

 

Chairman of the group, Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani), who spoke with THISDAY exclusively, raised the alarm that despite ongoing reform efforts by the commission, Nigerians were still skeptical of the credibility of next year’s elections due to several allegations of manipulation of sensitive electoral materials, especially BVAS by staff of the INEC, to favour selected political actors during election.

 

Auwal said the reason why election in Nigeria is a do or die affair, is because “some politicians and security agencies as well as some officials of the electoral body have turned election into a money making business.”

 

He explained that although there has been improvement in the electoral process by the way of reforms, however, the civil society organisations would continue to support INEC and provide them with credible information on how to improve on the electoral process in the country.

 

According to him, “We have seen that

 

transformation since Attahiru Jega came to INEC as chairman, and this current INEC has also consolidated on those achievements.

 

“We will urge the leadership of INEC to carry out a kind of deployment of some people within INEC headquarters because part of the observation that many people have made is that when you have some people sitting in a particular department, especially departments that have to do with logistics, they are used to this arrangement that continue to fail.

 

“So it’s important that INEC leadership redeploy and reorganise sensitive staff who have stayed long and whose contributions have not helped improve the electoral process. By doing so, the allegations made against these people would have been addressed.

 

“There are allegations that politicians have individual contacts in INEC. If you are able to reorganise the place, do some deployment, bring some staff from the headquarters to other places. I think it would also alley the fear that many people have that one of the reasons why we continue to have logistics challenges and procurement failure is because some

 

people have entrenched themselves in a particular department or location. So there is need to unbundle that and do redeployment as well as have new orientation for the staff there. Also, contractors who have been there need to comply with Public Procurement law.

 

“This is the only explanation on why these machines continuously refuse to work. If there is no manipulation or deliberate attempt to shortchange the electoral process, why is that we are having issues with these machines and why have we not sufficiently trained the electoral officials to handle these machines very well? This why I said the technical department also needs reform.”

 

Although the INEC recently gave the assurance that the commission would perform better in subsequent elections in the country starting from Ekiti and Osun States, it noted that it has uncovered the causes of the glitches experienced in the Anambra State governorship and FCT local council polls.

 

THISDAY reports that the National Commissioner for Voters Education Committee, Festus Okoye, gave the assurance at a one-day training workshop for journalists in Abuja.

 

INEC had come under public criticisms over failure of the technology the commission deployed during last year’s governorship election in Anambra State and the February 13 FCT local council election.

 

Fielding questions from journalists after speaking on the topic: ‘Access to Electoral Information and Accuracy in Reporting’, the Deputy Director, Voters Education, Okoye, who was represented by Dr. Chukwuemeka Ugbaoja, said the commission has been able to uncover what went wrong and that they have been rectified.

 

Ugbaoja disclosed that the technology was produced locally by INEC engineers, noting that the ‘back and forth’ experienced during both elections was a building process that was expected.

Culled from THISDAY

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