On October 27, 2015, Partners for Electoral Reform (PER), in collaboration with other Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), x-rayed the state of democracy in Nigeria. I (Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa), Chairperson, Board of Directors, National Peace Summit Group (NPSG) was a stakeholder at the meeting, held in Abuja.
The following summarises what transpired at the meeting:
*President Mohammed Buhari was commended for the recent appointment of Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu as Chairman of INEC along with 5 National Commissioners.
*Their appointments need to be confirmed as soon as possible in view of Gubernatorial elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states scheduled for November 21 and December 5 respectively in order to allay fears about the legality of the proposed elections.
*More women need to be appointed into INEC inspite of the fact that two of the national Commissioners (Mrs. Amina Zakari & Prof. Anthonia Okoosi-Simbine) are women.
*The President should, without delay appoint the full complement of national Commissioners and Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs).
*There should be a more inclusive Parliamentary mechanism for cross-Party involvement in the selection and approval of the INEC Chairperson and national Commissioners.
*INEC's independence should be further developed through direct power to appoint and remove RECs.
*The 8th National Assembly (NASS), should expedite action on the electoral reform process that was started by the 7th NASS. To avoid replication and duplication of previous efforts, the 8th NASS should audit all past electoral reform processes.
*For sustainable democracy, we need to review the following:
- Framework for electoral administration (electoral governance).
- Electoral legal framework.
- Internal Party Democracy (IPD), and other issues within Political Parties.
- Election observation.
- Election security, especially as it relates to women, the disabled, the aged and other vulnerable groups.
- Public ownership of the electoral process.
- Cost of elections.
- Role of CSOs in the sustenance and consolidation of democratic governanace.
Always remember that the end of one election should be the beginning of effective and efficient planning for the next election. 4 years represent a short time available for planning. Preparation for the 2019 election should have started yesterday. Our erstwhile 'fire brigade' approach to the issue of elections must stop!