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Electoral Reforms: INEC Begins National Dialogue In July

The Independent National Electoral Commission on Tuesday said it would soon convene a national dialogue that would pave way for the reform of the electoral system in Nigeria.

The commission also promised to dutifully study the reports from stakeholders in the 2019 elections “and take into consideration the actionable recommendations in planning for future elections.”

The chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said the conversation would be structured around critical issues, including taking into consideration the reports of previous committees on electoral reform which had been submitted in the past 40 years.

During the exercise which has been scheduled to kick off in the next two months (around July/August), the commission plan to engage with all stakeholders, beginning with a review involving its officials at Local Government and State levels.

The review would also involve INEC Electoral Officers, Administrative Secretaries, Heads of Department and representatives of ad hoc officials engaged for elections from Presiding Officers at Polling Unit level to Collation and Returning Officers.

Yakubu stated these during the first meeting of INEC with the Resident Electoral Commissioners, after the conclusion of the 2019 general elections.

Among the reports to be considered, according to him, included the report of Babalakin Commission of Inquiry into the affairs of the Federal Electoral Commission (FEDECO in 1986); Justice Muhammadu Uwais report on electoral reform (2008), Lemu Committee on post-election violence (2011) and Ken Nnamani Committee report on constitutional and electoral reform (2017).

Others included the various administrative reports by INEC; investigation reports by the security agencies (the Nigeria Police and the Nigerian Army); independent studies by the National Human Right Commission (2015 and 2017); judgements of the various election petition tribunals; and reports of domestic and international observers.

Yakubu also said that INEC would also consider the record of public hearing for the amendment of the electoral legal framework by the National Assembly and confessional statements by some political actors.

He said, “There is value in revisiting all these reports. The commission will work with stakeholders in undertaking such a comprehensive review in earnest. You may recall that the commission had earlier assured the nation that we shall review all aspects of our processes and procedures for the 2019 general elections in full consultation with stakeholders.

“We are convinced that there should be a major national conversation on the management of our electoral process. This process must be qualitatively different from what was done in the past and benefit from all previous efforts at reform. This meeting with RECs is the first in the series of engagements within the commission and with all stakeholders.

“We are convinced that until we get our electoral process on the right, consistent and progressively positive trajectory, our efforts at nation-building and promoting peace and progress shall remain epileptic. No doubt we have made progress since 1999 but a lot of work still lies ahead.

“Over the next two months, the commission plans to engage with all stakeholders. We shall then follow it up with consultations at the national level with political parties, security agencies, civil society organisations, the media, development partners, traditional and religious organisations, national and local peace committees and professional groups accredited to observe elections.”

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