Some Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in the country have disagreed over the mode of election conduct and transmission of results in the country, especially the coming 2023 General Elections.
While some advocated for electronic voting and electronic transmission of election results, others say Nigeria is not yet ripe for such.
The National Assembly recently passed the Electoral Act Amendment, which was sent to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent.
While passing the contentious electoral bill, the Senate in clause 52 (3) provided that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) must seek clearance from the National Assembly and Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to determine when and where electronic voting and electronic transmission of election results should be done.
Though experts say such provision will kill the independence of INEC, the version passed by the House of Representatives only allows the electoral commission to decide when and where electronic voting and electronic transmission of results should be conducted.
But speaking at a zoom meeting organised by Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) tagged: “The Future of Elections in Nigeria”, CSOs expressed divergent views on how elections should be conducted in the country.
The Executive Director of Yiaga Africa, Samson Itodo, said Nigerians need to be mindful of elections and how it is conducted.
“We can’t surrender the election to machines. Democracy is about the people and not machines. Citizens must be given the power. We need to rethink elections and democracy.”
“It is critical to know that democracy is not just about election. We must think on how we can implement democracy without elections that are not delivering,” Itodo said.
He also raised concerns that there is concentration of power within one percent of the Nigerian population, adding that while people can’t even assert their authority, the same set of elites have been holding power in the last 10 years.
The outgoing chairperson of TMG, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, said her group has been consistent in asking for electronic voting and electronic transmission of elections results, adding that such should not be compromise.
She said, “We stand on the fact that we must advocate for electronic voting and electronic transmission of elections results. We will continue to advocate for election transparency and accountability.”
The Chairman of Partners for Election Reforms (PER), Mr. Ezenwa Nwagu, said financial independent is a problem for INEC and that there are procurements that need to happened, guaranteed before the election circle but that bureaucracy is hampering the independent of INEC.
Nwagwu said, “INEC should the given not only its independent, Financial autonomy for the electoral umpire is essential. Politicians that don’t want reform are the same people Nigerians must run to for the process to be reform. There should be clarity in election results transmission and we know that it is INEC’s duty to decide and not any other body.”
On her part, the representative of the CSO, Situation Room and Country Director of ActionAid Nigeria (AAN), Ene Obi, said Nigerians must hold the government to account adding that people knew the election results of Abiola even before the process was completed insisting that with electronic transmission of results, it will be transparent and many people will have confidence on the process.
She said, “INEC need to be empowered to conduct credible elections. The national assembly should adhere to the yearnings of Nigerians.”