By Ruth Oketunde
Inspite of nation’s challenges, Nigeria’s 24 years of uninterrupted power is an affirmation of the country’s thriving democracy.
The National Coordinator/Chief Executive Officer of AUDA-NEPAD, Ms Gloria Akobundu, made this known at a one-day symposium on Elections Monitoring and Observation tagged 2023 General Election and Way Forward, in Abuja.
”The 2023 general elections, which marked 24 years of the country’s unbroken democracy in a stretch, since its independence, was a major milestone.
“I have never seen a country that the military governed and they were able to build their country back.
“I have never seen any country where there are instability and the military were able to consolidate development and economic growth.
“That is why it is important that we need to first celebrate Nigeria for ensuring that democracy stands in our nation and that is why we need to encourage democratic processes to enable us realise the Nigeria we all want.
“We need to join hands with our leaders to make it better, we do not need to compare ourselves with the Western world,” she said.
On the key objective of the symposium, she said that it was important to x-ray how well its campaign and sensitisation prior to the election, had an impact to the peaceful conduct of elections in the country.
She said that it would also build capacity of relevant stakeholders on managing pre and post electoral crisis for sustainability of the National Programme of Action (NPoA) and Country Review Report (CRR) recommendations.
Also speaking, Mr Abdulkarim Chukkol, Acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said the commission’s effort in combating voter inducement, sent strong shivers to those involved in the act.
Chukkol, represented by Mr Adariku Michael, said that the EFCC deployed its operatives across the country to prevent the issue of vote-buying and selling and it was able to arrest, investigate and prosecute those found wanting.
He recommended that for the country to get it right, there was need for continuous sensitisation of voters on the short, medium and long term effect of selling their votes.
“Selling votes brings bad governance, Nigerians must desist from this act.
“There is also need to amend our legal reform to make stiffer punishment for offenders.
“There is need for close monitoring of elections by security agencies by making their presence well felt in every polling unit.
“It is also important that we have a strategic planning and deliberate implementation of cashless policy, this will sure help in reducing voters inducement,” he said.
For his part, Mr Omotade Folorunso, Director, Corps Welfare and Health Services, National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), said it was important to deploy adequate security personnel to hard-to-reach communities in the country.
He said that though the corps did not lose any corps member in the last election, it was however important to deploy adequate security to protect the lives of the adhoc personnel in subsequent elections.
He however called for an upward review of renumeration given to the corps members participating in subsequent elections.
The Commandant of the National Institute for Security Studies (NISS), Ayodele Adeleke, added that in tackling logistics problems in future elections, INEC should make adequate provisions for transportation of materials to all the polling units in the country.
Adeleke, represented by Dr Adegboyega Kareem, Director, Research, NISS, added that simulation exercise in this regard, with all the critical stakeholders must be carried out to identify loopholes and proffer solutions before the elections.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event had in attendance, representatives from the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Nigerian Army, FRSC, NSCDC, among others. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Sadiya Hamza