The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Attahiru Jega has said that promoting the culture of free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria is fundamental for good governance.
Speaking at the ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commission’s (ECONEC) annual general meeting in Abuja, the INEC Chairman noted that the nation’s electoral system has transformed in the past two years but more needs to be done to address the numerous challenges facing the country.
He urged the general assembly to encourage exchange of technical expertise and evolve standard electoral practises that could serve as benchmarks for assessing elections across the African region.
“For our countries to progress and develop; for us to have good governance, we need to entrench the culture of free, fair and credible elections because they are the foundation of good governance and the choice of leaders who can preside over the responsibilities of developing our countries,” Mr Jega said.
The INEC boss said that all over the West Africa sub-region “there is now a clear recognition that we have to entrench the culture of free, fair and credible elections. We have to ensure that elections are conducted on an impartial and non-partisan basis so that the true choice of the people will emerge in the electoral process.”
ECONEC was established in February 2008 in Conakry not only to facilitate ECOWAS assistance to Member States but also to serve as a regional platform for exchange of best practices and enhance the capacities of the electoral commissions of Member States.
Participants in this year’s ECONEC summit, according to a statement by the organisers, are expected to update and improve the internal regulations of the network; set up a bureau to coordinate its functions; highlight best practices in the management of elections; adopt a two year work plan for the network and discuss specific challenges in election management and ways of resolving them
They will also establish a mechanism for improving cooperation between ECOWAS and the National Electoral Commissions, review the activities of the network since its establishment and examine the role of E Registration in election management in the region.
Group commend INEC on Ondo polls
Meanwhile, Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) and the Centre for Human Right and Ethics in Development (CHRED) has described the last Saturday’s governorship election, that produced incumbent Ondo governor and Labour Party’s candidate, Olusegun Mimiko the winner, as credible, free and fair.
The two accredited observers noted that the result of the election as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) reflect the wish of the electorate in the state.
The TMG in its interim report signed by Ibrahim Zikirullahi and Eddy Ezeruike stated that voter turnout was very impressive at different polling units across the state while the security was adequate, heavy and in most places provided the confidence that most voters required to come out and vote.
Similarly, the CHRED in his report signed by Moshood Erubami stated that the result announced by INEC reflected the voting character in most polling stations as reported by the observers who also reported the presence of political Agents representing the three main political parties contesting the election.
Mr Erubami said “The conclusion of our report today 21st of October 2012, is that though the pre-election periods created fear that the election might be marred by violence and irregularities, the determination of the stakeholders to participate in an election that is free, fair, transparent, credible and legitimate played out in the results from majority of polling centres as reflected in the vivid adherence of political parties to their pledge to support peaceful election, improved operations of the INEC, the impartiality of the security Agencies and vigilance of the citizens and domestic election observers.
”The results of unofficial irregularities in smaller units and their outcome might not be enough to upturn the INEC results except in situation of provable evidence of where the process was failed by non –compliance with the guidelines and electoral act which in most of the polling stations manned by our observers were not the order.”