…Signs MoU With Transport Unions
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has initiated strong resistance to block all seeming ploys knowingly adopted by politicians and political parties to influence voters with money at polling units.
The strategy according to INEC, requires collaboration of relevant agencies of government to rid the forthcoming elections of influencing voters with money.
Addressing a stakeholders summit in Abuja on Monday on the influence of money in the 2023 general elections, Chairman of INEC, Mahmood Yakubu, said, “Understandably, many Nigerians have demanded to know from INEC what the Commission is doing about the deleterious influence of money in elections, particularly the diabolical purchase of Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) from voters ahead of the election and vote buying at Polling Units on Election Day.”
Yakubu, said “Over the years, we introduced a number of measures, including the slight reconfiguration of our Polling Units to bring the ballot boxes closer to the voting cubicles to discourage the exposure of the marked ballot papers by voters to vote buyers.
“We also banned the use of smart phones and photographic devices by voters in the voting cubicles. Yet, these measures have recorded limited success.”
On the new initiative he said, “Today, we commence yet another initiative to sanitise and strengthen our electoral process. We believe that in dealing with the corruption of our elections by money, the Commission cannot do it alone.
“To succeed, we must mobilise every relevant national institution to support our effort. We must rely on the professional and other capacities of cognate agencies in our determination to improve electoral administration in Nigeria.”
He also appreciated the collaboration with the Police, the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as well as the regulatory bodies such as the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON).
He further welcomed the assurances of full collaboration, commitment and partnership of these agencies to credible elections based on their statutory responsibilities.
The Chairman, said the Commission is aware that legal provisions and the actions of the agencies are critical but will not be enough to completely root out the deep-seated cancer of corrupt money in our elections.
He therefore noted that the concerted actions of citizens are crucial, saying, “Citizens must reject inducements to sway their votes through vote buying. They must also engage effectively in stopping the negative use of money in our electoral process generally by reporting cases to INEC and other agencies. In addition, civil society organisations should make this a major plank of both their pre-election and election observation activities. Financial institutions, religious organisations, traditional institutions, the media, civic bodies and, above all, citizens must also join in this fight.”
He also reminded the public that the ban on cell phones at voting cubicles is still in force. “We have for some time now reorganised our Polling Units so that ballot boxes are placed next to the voting cubicles to forestall the practice by unscrupulous voters of showing their marked ballot papers to vote buyers. We appeal to voters to draw the attention of our polling officials wherever they observe that these basic rules are not complied with.”
He reassured Nigerians that the Commission is determined to ensure a solid election management system and a legacy of credible elections in Nigeria.
“We believe that every conscientious Nigerian wants us to do so. As a Commission, we harbour no illusion that it is going to be easy to root out the negative influence of money on our elections, but we are determined to tackle it.” he said.
Yakubu added, “We fully realise that today’s initiative will not go down well with people who may not be committed to the growth of our electoral system and the consolidation of our democracy. We expect them to fight back. There will be both covert and overt pressure, countervailing actions and even threats by these vested interests. I wish to reiterate that our loyalty is to Nigeria and our allegiance is to Nigerians. We are committed to working with the collaborating agencies to see that this initiative succeeds in the 2023 General Election and beyond.”
He again reiterated the Commission’s resolve to continue to employ both technology and administrative measures to strengthen Nigeria’s electoral process, adding, “I assure Nigerians that preparation for the 2023 General Election is on course and we shall not be swayed from that course. Be assured that the BVAS has come to stay. Electronic transmission of results has come to stay. Public display of Polling Unit results through the IReV has come stay. With today’s initiative, the elimination of the negative use of money in our electoral process will be tackled head-on.”
He said today, Tuesday 20th December 2022, the Commission will take a major step in the preparation for the 2023 General Election with the signing of the revised Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the road and marine transport unions – the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and the National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) for land transportation and the Marine Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) for the riverine areas.