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2019 ELECTIONS: As the Clock Ticks …

By Laz Ahangba

politics

The loud music blares out in the quiet night. Tarkule, a middle aged Man of about 43 is awakened from his hard narrow bed. He stands up and peers out of his small window. He sees a number of cars parked at Chief’s residence across the road. Chief is a political godfather and a Party Chieftain of note. All political aspirants pay him homage to smoothen their path to victory.  Tonight, scores of aspirants have come to do him obeisance as usual. Tarkule hisses, looks at the time on his wall clock to discover it is past 2.00 am. He slowly walks back to bed and lies down to endure the noise and nuisance.

These are the days of politicking. Scenarios like the one described above are common place. Politicians are busy crisscrossing every nook and cranny of Nigeria soliciting for votes. They are selling their candidatures under the auspices of the different political parties. The political aspirants have different slogans, different songs, but same nothingness, full of promises but short of issues.

Elections in Nigeria and their processes have been this way from time immemorial. Political party structures are hijacked by godfathers and moneybags made of all shades of people, usually deficient in civility and accountability. These ones manipulate the party systems to throw up candidates of their choice. The chosen candidates are forced on the electorate into office. Once elected, the apparatus of government becomes the joystick of the godfathers and moneybags.  They play around the system to milk out their investments in terms of contracts, appointments and other compensations. This system plays out at all levels of governance. The consequences of this age-long tradition is poverty, lack of accountability, impunity, gross corruption, violations of the rights of citizens and worst of all, loss of democratic values. Political aspirants, rather than sell themselves to the electorate, mortgage themselves to the political godfathers knowing that without them, their victories at the polls are not guaranteed. How wrong!

The electoral process is likened to two-parallel lines but arriving at the same destination. It is between the election candidate on one line soliciting for votes from the electorate and the electorate demanding that his issues be addressed by the candidate on the other line, thereby leading all to the same destination called good governance. This process is only made possible through issue-based campaigns and issue-based voting. The election candidates should strictly carry out campaigns based on issues while the electorate vote based on the issues, quid pro quo.

The quality of electoral campaigns is a forerunner to the quality of governance after a winner has emerged and vice versa.  As the 2019 general elections draws near, has there been any issue-based campaigns from any of the candidates across political parties yet? Has the electorate positioned itself for issue-based voting across Nigeria? Have there been any tangible moves by citizen-groups to begin to engage elections candidates on issues bothering them and their communities? A brief environmental scan on the political Eco-system at all levels of governance across Nigeria shows little or no active issue-based campaigns from the candidates and there has not been strong body language from the electorate towards making demands for same. At the national level, for example, of the over 75 presidential candidates, only very few have plans that could culminate into issue-based campaigns. What has dominated the media (especially the social media) space is mudslinging and gutter-language campaigns. The same scenario is playing out at the sub national levels. Rather than base their campaigns on issues, most governorship candidates across the country are busy mudslinging one another while also employing unsavory propaganda.

The electorate, especially the youth are also culpable. Rather than engage the election candidates on common issues bedeviling their communities, they resort to real and cyber thuggery. Social media platforms which should ordinarily serve as a useful resource for the youths and other electorate have become a battle ground of some sorts. Any question, or comment directed at any election candidate is viewed by his supporters as an attack worthy of reprisal often in very harsh and derogatory language. This attitude is denying the electorate the opportunity to objectively engage the election candidates on issue-based campaigns which this election cycle desperately needs.

As we approach the 2019 general elections, the following are recommended as measures we should endeavor to put in place in order to bring about the change Nigeria desperately needs:

  • Profile all our election candidates across all political parties at all levels of governance
  • Undertake a study of the most pressing issues confronting our communities, state and country in general
  • Demand for issue-based campaigns from election candidates and vote candidates whose campaigns issues resonate with those of our communities, states and country
  • Present to electoral candidates citizens’ charter of demands based on the prevailing issues across communities, states and country with monitoring and evaluation indicators
  • Vote based on issues contained in the citizens’ charter of demand
  • Monitor and implement evaluation indicators.

As Tarkule finally drifts into sleep, the campaign vehicles begin to drive away. Again, he startles out of sleep and hisses in anger. He could hear the singer praise singing the candidate. He calls him the sun, the moon and star of his community. “What rubbish!” He thinks out loud. As the sound of the campaign songs fades away, Tarkule wonders if the singer and his ilk bother about improvement in power supply, job creation, heath care system, infrastructural development, agriculture and all the other challenges bedeviling the society. With these thoughts, he slowly drifts back into sleep

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Election Monitors List Threats To Nigeria’s 2015 Elections


President Goodluck Jonathan has vowed to take decisive action against troublemakers before, during and after the 2015 general elections. Two frontline election monitors, Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) and CLEEN Foundation have come out with early warning and election security threat assessments in the build-up to the 2015 general elections.

By EDEGBE ODEMWINGIE

The 2011 post-election violence that followed the announcement of presidential election results has remained a sore point in that years election. Murderous thugs invaded some northern cities, maiming and killing hundreds over perceived rigged votes.

President Goodluck Jonathan in his 2015 New Year broadcast to Nigerians, said the kind of violence that followed the 2011 elections would not be allowed to repeat.

“After the 2011 general elections, some unpatriotic elements embarked on an orgy of violence, resulting in the destruction of lives and property,” Mr. Jonathan said. “That will not be allowed to happen this time around. This government will act decisively against anyone who disrupts the public peace, before, during or after the 2015 general elections.”

Tough words from Jonathan, but the threats still lurks in the lead-up to 2015.

As part of its Election Security Management Project, CLEEN Foundation submitted that elections in Nigeria have been plagued with incidences of violence and irregularities, often involving officials of the electoral commission and security agencies.

In the seventh edition of its election security threat assessment towards 2015, the Foundation highlighted major threats to peaceful and credible conduct of the elections. The assessment which was released early December covers such issues as level of preparations by INEC and security agencies for the elections, activities of political parties, aspirants/candidates, their supporters and other non-state actors that might breach the public peace before, during and after the elections, if unchecked.

Key Risk Factors

Boko Haram insurgency in the north east: Until the situation in the north east is addressed we cannot rule out the possibility of more attacks across the country. In the last three years, all the states in the north east and some parts of North West (Kano, Kaduna and Jigawa) have been attacked by Boko Haram. It is even more likely now that electioneering is fast picking up. Criminal elements and political party thugs can disguise as Boko Haram to perpetuate mayhem on opposition groups;

Partisanship of security institutions: There are strong cases of partisan control of security institutions in the country. The federal government has been partisan in its use of the police and the state security service. This could be major threat to security. As we get close to elections, the feeling of political repression could be major risk factors. The incidence of police invasion of the national assembly and how police supported a minority group to impeach the Speaker of Ekiti State house of Assembly is not only clear reflection of partisanship that also indicates the possibility of security agencies being compromised during the 2015 elections. In reaction to this, opposition states are setting up their own security outfits which could serve as counterforce to the federal security agencies. The leadership of APC led a peaceful demonstration to the police Headquarters in Abuja in respect of this.

Electoral manipulation: Vote rigging or perceived rigging will be the major trigger of violence in the region especially the gubernatorial and Presidential elections. It was perceived vote rigging that triggered the 2011 post-election violence. It appears certain that vote rigging or perceived manipulation of the electoral will trigger violence in Kano, Kaduna and Katsina state.

Other threats

According to CLEEN Foundation, the presence of non-state actors is increasing in the north-east and this could be potentially dangerous in the long run.

CLEEN: “A group of hunters are presently being hailed for the liberation of Maiha and Mubi towns previously controlled by Boko Haram. There is also the sudden rise of the civilian JTF in Yola, a replica of the situation in Maiduguri. Members of Vigilante in Borno State have beheaded about forty-one Boko Haram fighters after a failed attempt by the insurgents to attack Gur village. The gun battle between the insurgents and the Vigilante jointly with the military lasted for about two hours. These two groups have played significant roles in counter-insurgency operations in Adamawa but it is unlikely that they will remain apolitical during the 2015 elections especially when they are currently being supported by politicians.

“…In the same light, newspapers have reports that the Governor of Adamawa State Bala Ngilari, has engaged 10,000 hunters and vigilantes to assist the military in fighting Boko Haram Insurgents. When this adds to the already existing pool of active non-state actors already present especially in Borno, Bauchi and Gombe states discussed in previous STA reports, the 2015 elections in the northeast may be quite difficult to conduct or manage.

“Series of bomb blasts and suicide attempts in Gombe, Bauchi and Yobe states are indeed danger signals. In Gombe State, there is the recent reemergence of ‘yan kalare’ a group set up by former Governor of Gombe State, Danjuma Goje and used as political thugs during his tenure are alleged to be responsible for rising scale of pockets of violence in the State. The group is also said to be responsible for the recent pelting of Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo in the State.”

TMG

In a State of the Nation address “Flirting With Anarchy, Elevating Impunity To An Art Of Statecraft” delivered by the Chairman of Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), Comrade Zikirullahi Ibrahim on November 27, 2014, TMG, a coalition of over 450 civil society organisations raised alarm over “violent and inciting rhetoric” from political actors.

“TMG notes with concern that the polity has been fouled up by violent and inciting rhetoric. We note concern that political actors who should be at the vanguard of stabilizing the system are openly pushing people into violent acts by their extreme posturing.

“In this regard, we flay the “crush the cockroaches” hate speech as credited to the Governor of Katsina State, Ibrahim Shema. We also call on the Rivers State governor Rotimi Ameachi, who has been talking about forming a parallel government should the elections not go the way of his party to tread with caution.

“On the whole, we are convinced that now is the time for all actors in the political terrain to be mindful of their utterances especially as the country is already stretched by dastardly reality of political and sectarian violence. All those making inflammatory comments capable of stoking passions and causing disorder should know that they would be held accountable for whatever heinous roles they play.

INEC Preparations

TMG called on the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) to be more forth coming with explanations about its preparation for the 2015 general elections.

“It is not enough for the commission to say its preparations are in top shape. The commission must be willing to share the details of its plans, so that Nigerians can be carried along well enough.

“We note with concern the problems that dogged the distribution of the Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) and the Continuous Voter Registration ((CVR). TMG notes that a number of these critical processes have not been concluded so close to the elections.

“As we speak, we await the final voter register for the 2015 elections, just as we wonder when those who are registering now in the CRV will get their PVCs. Knowing that it took several months, if not years for those who registered in 2011 to get their PVCs, we wonder how those just registering now will get theirs’ weeks to the elections. Bearing in mind the fact that without the PVCs, eligible voters will be denied the opportunity to exercise their franchise, we call on INEC to ensure that no eligible voter who has registered is denied the opportunity.

“We believe Nigerians are itching to know how far the commission has gone with printing of ballot papers, the state of card readers, preparations for logistics amongst a host of other issues. While we have no cause to doubt the commitment of Professor Attahiru Jega to conducting a free fair and credible election, we call on the INEC leadership to be much more forth coming regarding progress so far, and the challenges ahead. This way, Nigerians can better appreciate what is on the ground, and how to adjust in the face of eventualities. In the end, free, fair, transparent and credible elections are non-negotiable in the eyes and minds of all Nigerians.

Plans For 2015

Nigeria’s flagship election observation and civic education coalition, TMG said it would be actively on ground to observe the 2015 elections.

TMG: “In the run up to the polls, we have been engaged in monitoring the pre-election environment within the context of our early earning system for violence prevention. Reporting cases of violence or early indicators that a situation may become violent during the 2015 electoral process and receiving early responses from relevant authorities is expected to mitigate electoral violence and facilitate peaceful elections next year. The first report from our monitoring of the pre-election environment in the build up to the 2015 polls will be released next week.

“For the Presidential Elections of February 14, 2015, TMG will be deploying the Quick Count methodology. The Quick Count methodology, also known as the Parallel Vote Tabulation, is a gold standard for verifying the accuracy of elections. TMG will verify the outcomes of the 2015 polls using this widely tested method. Processes to be assessed include; opening of polling units, voter accreditation, voting, sorting, counting, announcement of results amongst other aspects of the Election Day procedures.

“Through the TMG Quick Count, non-partisan citizen observers will deploy to a random, representative sample of polling units across the country to report on the opening, accreditation, voting and counting processes during Election Day, as well as collect voting results. The heart of the Quick Count rests on establishing a representative, random sample of polling units. TMG will thus deploy observers to all 774 LGAs – whether this means traveling to the most inaccessible riverine areas or to the most remote desert villages – to maximize geographic coverage to analyse the election.

“All of these, we believe will help ensure transparent elections, which would allow for the supremacy of the voices of the Nigerian people come 2015.

For now, the Department of State Services (DSS) in the lead-up to 2015 general elections has warned politicians to desist from making inflammatory statements or face the full wrath of the law.

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2015 in Elections, Governanace, Human Rights

 

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Anambra Supplementary Poll: Voter turnout ‘as low as 5 per cent’ in several polling units

The Nigeria Civil Society Election Situation Room monitored the supplementary election.
The just concluded supplementary election in Anambra State was characterized by a very low voters’ turnout, the Nigeria Civil Society Election Situation Room, an election monitoring group, has said.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, on Sunday, declared Willie Obiano of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, the winner of the supplementary gubernatorial election in the state.
Mr. Obiano polled 180,178 votes to emerge winner, followed by Tony Nwoye of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, with 97,700 votes; and Chris Ngige of the All Progressives Congress, APC, with 95,963 votes.
In a statement on Sunday, the Situation Room, an INEC-accredited election monitor, noted that although the election was peaceful and electoral materials were distributed in a timely manner, there was very low voter turnout.
In several polling units across the 16 local governments where the election was held, turnout was as low as five per cent, the group noted.
“Reports received by the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room from our field observers indicate a low voter turnout,” the group said.
“For instance in Ifite Agbaja PU 022, Idemili North L.G.A, 980 voters were registered but only 64 voters got accredited and 59 people voted.
“Also in Chukwura Primary School l PU 006, 382 voters were registered and only 24 were accredited.
“In Inland town PU 007,Onitsha North L.G.A, 484 voters were registered and only 34 were accredited. Furthermore, in Okija Hall l and ll Onitsha South LGA, total registered voters are 818 and 784 while accredited voters were 120 and 84 respectively,” the group said.
The group also noted that election officials were deployed in sufficient numbers to the polling units.
“However in Chukwura Primary School l and School ll PU 006 and 007 and in most polling units, we received reports that chairs and tables were not provided by INEC for Election officials.
“Our observers noted heavy deployment of security agents in sufficient numbers in most polling units, and that these officers and men conducted themselves in a professional and commendable manner,” the group also said.
“The election was peaceful, but voter turnout was very low, as low as 5% in several of the polling units that Situation Room observed.
“With only a few polling units set to vote today, it is understandable why the usual problems of logistics was limited in today’s poll,” the group added.
Though the group did not state the reason for the low turnout, observers believe it was because of the decision of the major opposition candidates to boycott the election.
The APC, Labour Party, and PDP candidate, Tony Nwoye, boycotted the supplementary election and asked their supporters to do same. They demanded the total cancellation of the November 16 poll

 

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2013 in Governanace, Uncategorized

 

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ANAMBARA STATE GUBER ELECTIONS: ELECTORAL BODY AND THE POLICE FAIL NIGERIANS AGAIN, SAYS CSOs

Nigeria Civil Society Election Situation Room, an election monitoring team, has slammed the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, over the conduct of Saturday’s Anambra state governorship election which is yet to be concluded.

The electoral body suspended the final collation of results of the election until Sunday afternoon, following its earlier decision to reschedule the poll in 65 polling units in Obosi, Idemili North local government.
In its final report on the election released Sunday noon, Election Situation Room said INEC had repeated too many common mistakes that the expectation of Anambra election serving as a litmus test for 2015 general election, has not been fully realized.
“It is our overall impression that the conduct of the elections leaves a lot to be desired and reflected the lack of competence on the part of INEC in the conduct of elections,” the group said. “The several failings of past elections identified in previous observer reports seem to have repeated themselves…”
The group, a platform of civil society organizations working on election observation, managed by Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, said INEC has no explanation for late distribution of election materials as observed at several polling units.
“The Situation Room is concerned that INEC is still not able to deal with the perennial challenge of late distribution of election materials and commencement of accreditation and voting.
The group decried the “gross incompetence” of INEC officials charged with distributing election materials.
“This incompetence manifested in the reported mix up of the election materials for areas such as Idemili North LGA…Although INEC has rescheduled elections in a number of polling units in the worst affected areas, such mix up affects the integrity of our electoral process,” it said.
The group also criticized INEC for not deploying election officials in sufficient numbers to some polling units.
“We received reports that in some polling units, election officials were recruited at the election venue and deployed without any form of training,” it said.
It also criticized the commission for the disenfranchising many voters who could not find their names on the approved list.
The group said despite media report suggesting large turnout of voters, the real numbers were far less.
“Although various reports in the media suggest high turnout of voters based on the sometimes large crowds seen milling around some polling units, the actual accredited voters based on our observations fell far short of the numbers of registered voters in the respective polling units,” it said.
Curiously the Civil society situation room  praised security agents for conducting themselves in a professional and commendable manner. “This is in spite of reports that security officers deployed from outside Anambra State were not adequately provided with food and shelter.” The report added.

In a different report however, the Justice and Equity Organisation (JEO)  issued a report that Anti- democratic forces have unleashed their latest retrogressive onslaught, less than forty-eight hours to the Anambra Gubernatorial election, at civil society activists and groups officially accredited by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the premises of Disney Hotels, Km 4, Owerri-Onitsha road, Owerri, Imo State. The statement reads “Our Organisation, the Justice and Equity Organisation (JEO) accredited as observer in the Anambra Governorship elections of 16th November, 2013 was the victim of police repression and political game.

To ensure efficiency and credible observation, we have organised a pre-election training and briefing session for our Observers. The occasion was also used to distribute election observation paraphernalia to our agents for the Saturday elections. While this peaceful and unobtrusive process was ongoing, a team of police men, acting ostensibly to protect the interest of some evil minded people swooped on the hotel, arrested all the 180 observers, mobilised by our organisation from across the country and carted away the INEC-provided election observation identification tags among other valuables.

This urgent public notice therefore became expedient in view of the very reliable information at our disposal, on a planned purported police stage-managed drama, wherein the arrested activists would be paraded as hoodlums and common criminals. In fact, the Police is set to display some arms and ammunition to press home its chicanery on the intent and gathering of the comrades.

We are using this medium to appeal to members of the public and the Inspector-General of police to as a matter of urgency call the Police to order. The conduct of an election should not and cannot be an excuse to declare a state of emergency on the people who are supposed to come and exercise their franchise freely. The undue militarisation of Anambra State and its environs had been a cause of concern to well-meaning observers. This high-tension situation informed our choice of Owerri for our training and briefing of mobilised observers. This arrest and detention of well-meaning Nigerians, who have sacrificed their time and comfort for voluntary service in the interest of the nation must be roundly and soundly condemned by all.

We are by this statement further calling on Mr. President, the National Assembly, Party leaders, Inspector-General of Police, the Press, INEC and Nigerians for their intervention ahead of the election.

We hereby admonish the Police authorities to order the immediate release of our members to forestall undue tension during and after the election.”

Whichever way, INEC and the Police have yet again failed Nigerians in election management.

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2013 in Governanace

 

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