The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has urged the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to revive the implementation of its Support to Democratic Empowerment (SDE) Phase 1 project in Nigeria.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made the call on Wednesday in Abuja when he received the new UNDP Resident Representative to Nigeria, Mr. Mohammad Yahaya, who led a delegation to the commission.
The SDE is aimed at enlightening and mobilizing stakeholders including women groups, youths, traditional and religious leaders to participate massively and actively in the general elections.
The programme is also to conduct civic and voter’s education, as part of the media campaign, to sensitize and create awareness among the citizens for effective participation in elections.
Yakubu said the programme should have commended in 2018 but was suspended due to time and funding challenges.
“There is one pending issue that we need to resuscitate immediately, which is implementation of the Support to Democratic Empowerment (SDE) Phase 1.
“The implementation should have commenced in May 2018 through to December 2019. The plan was not fully implemented for a number of reasons, but essentially the pressure on time on the commission because of general elections as well as the issue of funding.
“I am glad to note that the plan is being revised by our technical teams. I look forward to the work of the two teams. I wish to once again reassure you that we will jointly implement the recommendations in the current electoral circle and beyond,” he said.
Prof. Yakubu described the UN and UNDP in particular as long term partners who support elections, good governance and democracy in Nigeria.
He said that INEC valued their partnership and it would continue to work with UNDP in promoting democracy and good governance.
Speaking earlier, the UNDP Resident Representative, Mohammed Yahaya, pledged the organisation’s continue support and engagement with INEC in deepening credible elections and democracy in Nigeria.
According to him, the UNDP recognised INEC as a critical institution for deepening democracy.
“For UNDP globally, electoral commissions have been a key part for the work that we do, in deepening democracy and delivering the voices of those who have voted in a way that is credible and transparent.
“So, the work that you do, commissioners and chairperson, is critical for democratization to take its root in this country and across the continent.
“For me, coming here is one of the key aspects of my duties. I want to thank you and your team for the work you have done in the past, but also to congratulate you for delivering 2019 general elections,” Yahaya said.
He also said that topmost of his agenda in Nigeria is for the UNDP supports for Nigeria’s plans, including making INEC stronger.