Odahiekwu Ogunde, Yenagoa
Independent National Electoral Commission, Civil Society Organisations and other stakeholders have demanded the review of the electoral process in the country.
They identified proper review of the Electoral Act, early sensitisation of voters, adequate security, more participation and protection of women in politics, among others, as the panacea for free, fair and credible elections in the future.
At a virtual workshop organised by Stakeholders Democracy Network, participants which also included security agencies, political parties and academics, noted that proper preparation and holistic change in the Electoral Acts would bring the needed change in the electoral system in the country.
Speaking during the workshop, Chairman of the Civil Liberties Organisation, Bayelsa State chapter, Chief Nengi James; Chairman, Bayelsa NGO Forum, Robinson Kuro; Bayelsa State Coordinator of the Girl Child Empowerment Reproductive Health Initiative, Mrs. Rosemary Oweifari and child and human rights activist, Princess Egbe, backed the review of the electoral process.
The Project Officer, SDN, Joseph Ekong, said the event was packaged to avail project participants the opportunity of assessing the successes recorded.
He also said the exercise would identify gaps and recommend better ways of implementing future elections while reactions and recommendations would afford INEC and other stakeholders to organise a freer and violence-free elections.
In her remarks, Oweifari said INEC should review the gender policies for women participation in future elections, saying the issue of violence against women in elections should be aggressively addressed.
“I think the electoral act should be amended and the issues affecting women participation, especially the violence against women should be well articulated in the new act,” she said.
INEC’s representative at the workshop, Robinson Kuro, said election management would look at recommendations and issues raised from the post-election reviews with a view of improving the electoral process.
He, however, said INEC as a sub-system in the entire electoral process would need other sub-systems in the entire system to perform optimally for the process of electioneering to be successful.
He said, “A lot of people have agreed that elections are products of the entire system, the system has sub-system and INEC is just a sub-system in the electoral process. We have political parties, voters, we have independent bodies like the CSOs, security agencies and many others.
“All of these have specific roles to make the system operational and functional.
“Now, if you look at the way these systems operate, you will discover when one system is operating optimally and others are not, it affects the performance of the entire system, that is what is happening to our electoral process.”
He said there were certain things the commission would improve upon but it could only work and achieve its objectives if the political parties and voters addressed their challenges.