TOWARD CREDIBLE ELECTIONS IN 2023; THE ROLE OF ALL THE ELECTORAL STAKEHOLDERS.
By ATER, Solomon Vendaga
Program Assistant, African Centre for Entrepreneurship and Information Development
For quite a great number of people, the 2023 elections in Nigeria will determine the fate of the nation. This is simply not because elections afford people the opportunity to choose their leaders but it is a time Nigerians will decide whether they will get it right or continue in the wrong direction. While it may be safe to admit that the coming elections will be close to our aspiration of a credible polling process as it is already expressed by such animated quest by the citizens to register for the Permanent Voter’s Card, join political parties of their choices and even contribute handsomely to the campaigns of their chosen candidates, it may also be right to say that with the precedents of events and activities, the 2023 elections may be just a replica of the past elections. Evidently, the party primary elections conducted earlier have given the picture of what is likely to happen in 2023 if the situation is not addressed adequately. The politics of vote buying/selling is alive and kicking. It would have been okay to think that in the post-2022 Electoral Act such a concept should not have been dancing bugaciously with so much energy and ‘hopes’ of domination but the case is likely to be as usual.
The question we must now address is that of what next? What should be done and how can we have a better election come 2023? There are quite several answers but all of them are tied to a common reality and that is the need for intentionality among every stakeholder in the electoral space. There must be an intentional approach to deliver a credible election in 2023. In that intentionality, the current administration must provide a fair ground for all political actors, and appointments for Electoral umpires must be based on the practice of fairness in line with constitutional requirements. These electoral officers must be non-partisan, and independent. This should appear in the way and manner in which electoral resources are channeled toward ensuring credible elections.
The security architecture must be strengthened so that electorate can freely without any intimidation cast their votes.
The electorate must also be intentional about who they really believe will change and bring the true change we all desire. They must be patriotic. Avoid all forms of electoral malpractice and remain true disciples of democracy.
Civil society organizations must continue their job as watch men and women. Ensuring that every process is carried out accordingly. They should not forget that they are the vanguard of a credible electoral process.
The media must not appear to only hub-nob with selected political parties but should ensure that all have a fairground to spotlight their various campaigns.
The role of electoral observers whether local or international can not be overemphasized. They not only act as watchmen and women to ensure the right processes are followed but they represent the very face of electoral integrity. They must be ready to give out true information when issues arising from elections come up.
The religious institutions must remain the conscience of society. They must not keep quiet in the face of electoral ills. But most importantly, they must guide their members to do the right thing when due.
The traditional institutions must of prominence uphold the values that translate the electioneering process into credible results. Traditional rulers must not forget to ensure their communities shun all forms of electoral ills.
The Court and all who operate in the temple of justice must be allowed to enjoy the independence with which electoral justice would not be denied. There is no alternative to justice whenever the tribunal for electoral issues is constituted as such the court must do all it can to translate laws to offer this reality.
I strongly hope that with all the stakeholders doing their part of the job, we will have even if not perfect, near-perfect elections in 2023.