A coalition of Civil Society Organisations, with the name ‘Join bodi’ on Monday launched a repot that studied the political accountability and the 2023 general elections.
The event which held in Abuja had in attendance, the former Federal Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commissioner, Okey Ibeanu, traditional rulers, officials of Ministries, Departments and Agencies and other key partners in the media and development space.
Giving her opening remarks, the Secretary General, Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA), Saudatu Mahdi noted that the report is for the incoming administration to know what is expected of them and know what we (Nigerians) do not want to see in relation to accountability in elections.
The former INEC commissioner, who gave a Keynote address on ‘Promoting Accountability in Nigeria’ noted that the future of political accountability depends on the actions of Citizens.
He also indicated that two other strong agencies to instill political accountability is the media and the Civil Society Organisations.
Also present at the event was the Africa Director of McArthur Foundation, Kole Shettima who said the foundation seeks to help Nigeria in the following aspects by supporting: independent and Investigative Journalism, criminal justice system, instill behavioral change through the entertainment industry and Join bodi initiative.
Key findings in the report
On political party laws and regulations on political financing, the report noted that the Electoral act 2022 and the previous Electoral act 2010 require political parties to submit their annual reports of assets and liabilities, contribution reports and election expenses report.
But most political parties did not submit the reports in 2019 and major parties like APC and PDP expended at least three times more than the law permits and no punitive measures were taken.
Also, the Electoral law made provision to track party and candidates’ expenditures and third party spending on behalf of a party but it created loopholes in tracking party or candidate expenditure.
On vote buying,the research report revealed that the issue of vote buying is most prevalent in the North Central with 83 per cent, North East, South East and South West at 80 per cent respectively, followed by North West with 78 per cent and South South with 77% Prevalence.
On political apathy, the report said that there is dwindling trust in the Electoral and political process which increased lack of interest in all political activities in the country.
According to it, 39 per cent of respondents lack confidence in INEC’s capacity to ensure successful Electoral process due to high levels of insecurity that affect the voting process and the recurring poor perfomance of elected officials.
The report proposed that political parties submit their financial reports regularly which should include their donations and expenditures, consider more contributions to minimise spending on campaign financing and reduce the incentive to engage corrupt practices.
It tasked the government to establish an Electoral offence commission to investigate, prosecute and punish Electoral offenders in political financing and vote buying etc.
It urged CSOs to partner with INEC to monitor political financing and report violations to appropriate authorities while the media play an active role in investigating and reporting on political financing violations.
On vote buying, law enforcement agencies should monitor the activities of political parties and their candidates to detect and prevent buying of delegates and punish Electoral offenders involved in it.
The Publisher of Premium Times, Dapo Olorunyomi shared his thoughts on the role of media ownership, pluralism, and consolidation in promoting political accountability.
According to him, the notion of accountability is what connects the media to democracy of which it has three roles to play: provide the value of watchdog role to build effective societies and communities, help set crucial agenda to foster development lift, and provide an effective gate keeping process.
He also canvassed for new business models that supports the media to play an effective role in democracy.
Ms Ladi Bala, the President of Nigerian Association of Women Journalists noted that while in previous years the voices of Women and children were hardly heard, concerted efforts were made in the build up to the 2023 elections which made more women turn out during the polls.
She however called on society to see the need for inclusion adding that the media alone cannot be the only one pushing the agenda.
Sumner Sambo, Director of News and Politics Editor, Arise News Television noted that during the 2023 elections, the media played its crucial role in engaging the public and politicians but informed that there were disruptions from the political class.
“You can’t run a country without people’s input. People think they can buy positions even when people don’t go and vote for them. Transactional politics will not take us anywhere and ifvthe media does not do its watch dog role, the people will suffer”, he said.
About the report
The report is based on a study of political accountability and the 2023 General elections in Nigeria.
It was commissioned by the Joinbodi cohort, a group of 17 Civil Society Organisations seeking to uphold election integrity as a means of feeling Nigeria’s democracy.
The study used Qualitative and Quantitative approaches with Key informant interviews and focus group discussions conducted with CSOs, political party representatives, vulnerable groups and members of the general public in four states alongside 1, 043 phone interviews conducted.
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