The active participation of Nigerians in governance processes has been identified as the key to achieving accountability, ending the menace of corruption and propelling the country’s economy forward. This is even more important as the 2019 election approaches and political activities get underway.
Mahmood Yakubu, chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), speaking through Skype on Thursday, to the #GovTalkNG session audience at the ongoing Social Media Week Lagos, disclosed that as at Friday, 23 of February, 2018, 108 associations have applied to the commission for registration as political parties.
The chairman of INEC said the applications have already been forwarded to a committee mandated with the task of registering political parties for consideration. 9 of these associations have reached the last stage of registration. Currently, Nigeria has 68 political parties.
“For 2019, we will continue to register associations applying to become political parties but the window will soon close. Any association that registers six months before the election cannot participate in the election,” Yakubu revealed.
He also disclosed that the PVCs of Nigerians who registered in 2017 will be ready for collection in the first week of May, 2018.
“Between 26-30th of March we will display the names of those who have registered in the first quarter of the year,” he said.
The commission will be collaborating with the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) to send SMS to registered voters to come to designated centers to collect their PVCs.
During a panel session titled ‘Technology & Improving Governance: What citizens need to know’, Udy Okon, the executive director of Youth Alive Foundation, said that part of the problem of governance in Nigeria is that there is a generation of young people with no understanding of what it means much less good governance. Hence, to bridge this gap, her foundation is carrying out advocacy projects leveraging technology to get young people involved in governance.
“Engaging government is not very easy. However, if you are embarking on advocacy without government support, it becomes a one-way process. We have however, used social media to engage government by tagging them in our messages. We want them to respond. While we are engaging government, we are also making them engage the citizens,” she said.
Majirioghene Etemiku, executive director of Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), said the organisation has also embarked on advocacy to help citizens hold their leaders accountable. One of its programs, Properti Traka has helped to track properties that are gotten illegitimately in high brow areas.
Ahead of 2019, Seun Onigbinde, co-founder of BudgIT stated that the only way to achieve good governance is through collaboration. Government, businesses and people must collaborate through the processes. Through the Open Governance Partnership which Nigerian signed in 2017, issues like campaign finance can be addressed.
Yakubu Mahmood said the goal of INEC is to consolidate on the achievement from 2015 election. In that respect, the commission has moved to improve the functionality of the smart card readers and cleaning up the voters’ register.
This goal is also driving the recent pronouncement on the election principles for Nigeria in the next 50 years.
“We believe we have arrived at a point where election dates should no longer be matters of conjectures. We should have an election timetable that looks to the future,” he said.
INEC also plans to address the problem of vote buying and underage voting as they undermine the credibility of the elections.
“Vote buying is a very disturbing development for us. We can however, sensitize the citizens on the fact that election is a serious business. We also need to improve on voting unit administration in collaboration with the security agencies. This will be carried out by INEC. Finally, we also need improve our enforcement at the polling units,” Yakubu noted.
He assured that these challenges will be on the table in a meeting to be held on Friday with security agencies in the country.