To ensure a successful electoral process in Nigeria come 2023, the country’s leading elections monitoring group, the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) on Thursday reviewed the state of the country’s electoral process and announced a six-point advocacy agenda for the next four years.
The agenda was announced by its new Chairman, Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani), during a briefing on the state of the nation in Abuja.
Rafsanjani is also the Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and Head of Transparency International (Nigeria) as well as Amnesty International (Nigeria) Board Chairman.
In his review of the country’s political landscape, the TMG Chairman said Nigerians were increasingly losing confidence in the country’s electoral system, which, he said, was characterized with all forms of malpractices, manipulations, violence, commercialization and privatization of political parties and political offices for self-centred interests.
He said the Board of the Group and its members have resolved to do their best to advocate for electoral transparency and accountability in the system by mobilizing Nigerians to demand positive change in the electoral process.
Prior to the recent election of the new TMG leadership, Rafsanjani said he promised to build on the gains of his predecessors, by pursuing fundamental reforms within the group to ensure it realized its mandate.
The reforms and re-engineering of the TMG, he said, would involve strategically redefining its purpose, goals, and competitive position of the group and its role in effectively contributing to the development of democracy in the country.
He promised that his leadership would “run an all-inclusive organization, rebuilding partnerships with citizens, donor partners and civil society organizations, re-establishing the organization in its core areas of work – election observation, civic education and promotion of democracy in an accountable and transparent manner devoid of corrupt tendencies.”
On the agenda in the next four years, Rafsanjani said TMG would seek to secure the highest standards in the administration of elections in Nigeria by ensuring the election management body and the electorates carried out their responsibilities during elections under the Law and with internationally recognized standards for free and fair elections.
Also, he said the group would ensure good governance was entrenched in Nigeria through responsible leadership.
Besides, he said TMG was determined to redefine its values and identity to complement the existing work of other groups working on elections, by focusing more on observing how election delivers good governance.
“We will make a deliberate effort and intervention towards ensuring that the electoral process delivers dividends of democracy and sustainable development to the people which is lacking in Nigeria,” he said.
The other agenda by the Group, the TMG Chairman anounced, include advocacy to reform and Institutionalize internal democracy in the country’s political parties, in view of the lingering crisis as a result godfatherism holding absolute control of parties structure.
To ensure that Nigerians are well informed about the electoral processes in the country, the TMG said its leadership would embark on massive voters’ education to enable the people understand their rights and consequences of succumbing to political manipulations from politicians and their agents.
On continuous voters’ registration,
the TMG Chairman said it would mobilize extensively to campaign for mass participation of Nigerians in the ongoing exercise across the country.
“We will work closely with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to mobilize eligible Nigerians who are not on the voters’ register to register and vote in elections in Nigeria.
“The new leadership of TMG will mobilize our members to observe every aspect of the electoral process from the polling units to the wards, up to the National level,” he said.
On reports of misconducts by security personnel, politicians and political parties during elections in the country, the group promised to observe the conducts of security personnel, politicians and political parties and report accordingly, to ensure compliance with extant electoral laws and regulations.
In view of the growing incidence of political parties and candidates mounting litigations against electoral processes and outcomes in the courts, Rafsanjani said Nigerians have learnt bitter lessons from Imo and Bayelsa states and other similar experiences where election outcomes were upturned through an adjudication process after the 2019 general elections.
He said there were concerns about the adverse effects of litigations on the electoral processes and outcomes, especially in the context of nascent democracies associated with weak governance institutions, including the judiciary.
“TMG regards the Electoral Tribunals as key stakeholders in pre and post-election matters and will be observing court cases to ensure that Nigerians are aware of the outcomes of proceedings in the court and that the rule of law is maintained,” he said.
Reviewing the state of the nation, the TMG frowned at the recent attack on the Nigeria Defence Academy, saying it expected that the government would nip the security issue in the bud and tow an acceptable and less divisive path of bringing a lasting end to the security challenges the country is currently facing.
The group expressed concern that the Federal Government and the military have treat the issue of national security with levity while all geopolitical zones continue to bleed in a manner that portends grave danger to our democracy.
In the run up to the 2023 elections, the TMG noted the violence by those behind the secessionist movement who calling for the boycott of the election and threats to disrupt the polls, with thugs razing down electoral management offices, killing of security personnel, burning of police stations and kidnapping of electoral officials.
On the spate of banditry and kidnappings that have engulfed the country, the TMG said there was a pervasive atmosphere of uncertainty as to when the government would address them and the problem associated with criminal herdsman.
Urging the government to urgently address the country’s multifaceted security challenges before the conduct of the 2023 election, the TMG said this would prevent voter apathy due to voters inability to travel to exercise their civic rights, the safety of electoral materials and electoral officials and the credibility of the electoral result.
The corruption in Nigeria’s electoral processes, the group noted has continued unabated as politicians continue to exhibit recklessness with unaccounted campaign spendings and party financing by using illegitimate funds to induce voters.
INEC and other relevant agencies, the group said, must tackle the menace to allow voters to form a more objective opinion of the people they want to vote for.
On local government elections, the group said since the return of democracy in 1999, credible elections in that tier of government have remained elusive, with the processes and outcomes always the will of the state and ruling party, rather than the consent and aspirations of the electorates.
The political interference from the state government and partisanship of the state independent electoral commission, it said, has always led to a lack of trust in local elections and the increasing case of voter apathy, as a result of the inconsistency in the application of electoral guidelines and poor communication channels between state electoral commission and electoral stakeholders.
“TMG sees this as a rape of rural governance that portends grave danger for participatory democracy, accountability and rural development.
“We call on the Nigerian Governor’s Forum, political parties and relevant stakeholders to join voices in ensuring that credible Local Government Council elections are prioritized and conducted as at when due, while reforms should be put in place for local institutional strengthening and framework for local government development.
TMG condemns the current regime of intimidation by security operatives for expressing their fundamental rights of opinion on national issues across the country.
“We make bold to say that the government is further eroding its legitimacy as long as it continues to use the military and other security agencies to intimidate and harass fellow Nigerians.
“This brazen infringement on the fundamental rights and civil liberties of Nigerians is a recipe for chaos and anarchy,” the group said.