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YIAGA: INEC is struggling to breathe… it should be unbundled

YIAGA: INEC is struggling to breathe… it should be unbundled
November 28
19:46 2023

Samson Itodo, executive director of YIAGA Africa, says the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) needs to be unbundled.

Itodo spoke on Tuesday in Abuja at a citizens’ townhall on electoral reforms.

Addressing issues affecting the effectiveness of Nigeria’s electoral system, Itodo described the 2022 electoral act as one of the best piece of legislation that regulates the conduct of elections in Nigeria.

He, however, said despite the “several good things” about the electoral act and its impact during the 2023 elections, there are some gaps in the act.

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“Nigerians are asking why these incremental reforms have not led to attitudinal changes on the part of different actors within our political process,” Itodo said.

“Nigerians are asking; the more the reforms, the more the attack on the institutional independence of institutions saddled with the responsibilities of managing our electoral process.”

He said there are mechanisms in the constitutional order to self-correct and reinvent the electoral process.

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He advocated the establishment of an electoral offences commission and a politcal party regulatory and registration commission to relieve the burden on INEC.

“There are five key priorities that we put on the agenda; the first one is the need to unbundle INEC. As it stands, INEC needs to breathe,” Itodo said.

“INEC is struggling to breathe because there are enormous responsibilities vested in the electoral commission.

“So, the need for an electoral offences commission, the need for a political party regulatory and registration commission is critical and Nigerians want an INEC that is unbundled.”

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Itodo added that Nigerians are demanding that the appointment process of national commissioners and resident electoral commissioners should be reversed.

“Because you can’t have an electoral commission where the current legal framework allows the appointment of certain partisan individuals to be appointed into INEC,” he said.

“To build confidence in the electoral process, there’s an urgent need to secure the independence of INEC by reviewing the appointment process.”

Itodo added that Nigerians are also demanding a review of the timelines for concluding election petitions.

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“That all election petitions should be concluded before the swearing in,” he said.

“Nigerians are also requesting and demanding that there’s need to make electronic transmission of result mandatory.”

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He also said Nigerians are demanding the  expansion of the voting net.

“Nigerians are also asking that diaspora voting and early voting for critical stakeholders in our electoral process, such as INEC officials, election observers, security agents and all officials who are on election duty on election day should be able to cast their votes, including prisoners or inmates,”  he said.

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In October, the senate noted that it was considering unbundling INEC in a bid to improve the Commission’s efficiency.

In a communique issued after a two-day retreat in Akwa Ibom state, the senate also made a case for diaspora voting.

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