Ahead of the 2015 general election, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, has listed financial constraints and voters’ education as the two main challenges facing the commission.
Jega, who disclosed this yesterday, when he received Netherlands’ Director of sub-Saharan African Department, Michael Stubbe and the country's ambassador to Nigeria, John Groffen in Abuja lamented the financial constraints of the commission, which he said, had limited its ability to disseminate information to voters, resulting in inadequate voter education.
He said INEC was determined and prepared to conduct elections in all parts of Nigeria, despite being aware that some states have been under state of emergency, while adding that INEC was also mindful of the security issues in the country.
He assured his guests of improved security arrangement in 2015 better than that of the 2011 elections.
“We are aware that those issues are not in our hands, yet we have to rely on security agencies’ advice and expertise for us to be able to go ahead with the elections in the states,” he said.
Other key challenges of INEC ahead of the 2015 elections, the INEC boss said, were the issues of voter education, public enlightenment as well as the logistics challenges, pointing out that the doors for assistance on these regards are open to international partners.
On the 2015 timetable, Jega said what the commission did was purely based on its own internal consideration, without any regard to favour any interest, adding that the timetable sequence was the same with that of 2011, despite compressing the previous three elections days into two days in the upcoming election.
The INEC also criticised political parties, which often abandon their manifestos immediately they form government, adding that soon after elections, they adopt strange manifestos outside the original ones of their parties.
In another development, INEC's National Commissioner, Hajia Amina Zakari, while speaking at an event organised by the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), which had participants drawn from Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Labour Party (LP) All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and All Progressives Congress (APC), said: “Manifestos are hardly followed when a party wins, it becomes the chairman or the governor’s manifesto; he uses his own. Elected officials do not implement their party manifestos which the parties must follow.”
Zakari urged politicians to resort to the old order wherein the party was considered and treated as being superior, pointing out that it will help deepen and strengthen democracy as well as ensure internal democracy in parties.
Speaking further, the National Secretary of APGA, Alhaji Sani Shinkafi, noted that politicians were using ethnicity and religion to cause confusion in the polity, adding that they were more interested in their personal interest than national interest.
Earlier in her welcome address, the CDD Director, Ms Idayat Hassan, had pointed out that the programme where political parties were invited was not a debate, but a discussion forum.
“The Nigerian Political Parties Discussion Series (NPPDS) sets out to facilitate discussions amongst political parties in the country on entrenching democracy and good governance through strengthened internal party democracy in political parties. Almost fifteen years into the Nigerian new democratic dispensation, the political party system has suffered from lack of civility and insufficient inter-party dialogue.
"There are also varied challenges of lack of internal democracy, disregard for party discipline and formal procedures, fractionalisation within parties, weak political base and structure, ethnic based politics, and marginalisation of women, youth and persons with disability in leadership positions and decision-making processes.