CSOs Disagree over Electronic Transmission of Election Results

By Publisher
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…Rafsanjani elected TMG’s new board chairman

By Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

The debate over whether electronic voting and transmission of election results should be adopted for the conduct of 2023 elections has heavily divided the leaders of various Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) nationwide.

This division came to the fore at a virtual meeting, which the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) organised for CSOs at the weekend, though civil society actors were divergent on the mode of elections that should be adopted in 2023.

While some civil society practitioners canvassed electronic voting and electronic transmission of election results, others argued that Nigeria’s democracy should not be sacrificed on the altar of new technology.
At the virtual meeting, the Executive Director of Yiaga Africa, Samson Itodo said Nigerians “should be mindful of elections and how they are conducted.”

According to Itodo, we cannot surrender the election to machines. Democracy is about the people and not machines. Citizens must be given the power.
He, therefore, said: “We need to rethink elections and democracy. It’s critical to know that democracy is not just about elections. We must think on how we can implement democracy without elections that are not delivering.”

Also at the meeting, the representative of the CSO Situation Room, Ms. Ene Obi said Nigerians should hold the government to account, saying people knew the election results of Abiola even before the process was completed.
Obi argued that with electronic transmission of results, it would be transparent and many people would have confidence in the process.
Obi said: “INEC needs to be empowered to conduct credible elections. The national assembly should adhere to the yearnings of Nigerians.”

In his own submission, the Chairman of Partners for Election Reforms, Mr. Ezenwa Nwagwu said financial independence “is a problem for INEC.”
Nwagwu added that there “are procurements that need to happen and be guaranteed before the election circle. But bureaucracy is hampering the independence of INEC.
He noted that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should be given not only its independence, but added that financial autonomy for the electoral umpire is essential.

Nwagwu said: “Politicians that don’t want reform are the same people Nigerians must run to for the process to be reformed. There should be clarity in election results transmission. We know that it is INEC’s duty to decide and not any other body.”
Presenting her position at the meeting, TMG’s outgoing chairperson, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, said her group had been consistent in asking for electronic voting and electronic transmission of election results, adding that such should not be compromised.

According to her, we stand on the fact that we must advocate for electronic voting and electronic transmission of election results. We will continue to advocate for election transparency and accountability.
Meanwhile, TMG, Nigeria’s foremost independent civil society election observation organisation, at the weekend said it had elected Auwal Rafsanjani as the new chairman of its board.

In a statement at the weekend, the group said Rafsanjani, alongside other members of the board, were elected at the group’s annual general meeting (AGM) that took place on Thursday at Zeus Hotel, Mabushi, Abuja. “Rafsanjani, who is also the head of Transparency International-Nigeria and the chairman, board of trustees, Amnesty International-Nigeria, will now steer the affairs of the flagship election observation coalition in the country for the next four years,” Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, former chairman of the group, said.

“He is known for his consistent engagement of the polity in the last two decades, pushing for sustainable reforms that will bring lasting solutions to Nigeria’s many crises.
s the flagship of election observation in Nigeria, TMG played a pivotal role in ensuring civic participation by mobilizing citizens during Nigeria’s transition program conducted by the then military regime of general Abdusalami Abubakar between 1998 and 1999.

“Since then, TMG has consistently engaged the electoral process in ensuring transparency, accountability and credibility of the process by sensitising and observing every strand of election in Nigeria.
“Other members elected by the group included 10 new board members and the state coordinators who were pooled from different demographics to reflect the diversity of the country. Mr Rafsanjani succeeded Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi who stepped down having served the required maximum of four years single-term in office.”

Other members elected into the board included Mirian Menkiti, vice chair; Tijani Abdulkareem, treasurer; Ekaete Judith Umoh, representing persons with disabilities; Tayo Akinpelu, representing the youths, and Abdu-Azis Bako, north central coordinator.

Others are Sylvester Okoduwa, south-south coordinator; Joseph Gimba, north-east coordinator; Adesina Adefolahan, south-west; Gabriel Odom, south-east and Fatima Mohammed Umar, north-west
Delivering his acceptance speech, Rafsanjani thanked the outgoing board and promised to carry along members by running an all-inclusive organisation, rebuilding partnership with stakeholders especially with the donor communities, as well as other relevant agencies in the development sector.

Credit: THISDAY.

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