2023 elections critical to Nigeria’s democracy, says IPAC; as voter apathy worries UN

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AHEAD of the 2023 polls, political parties in Nigeria have agreed that the coming general elections were critical to sustaining the country’s democracy, just as the United Nations expressed worry over voter apathy.    

These sentiments were expressed on Tuesday when the United Nations Electoral Needs Assessment Mission met with the leadership of the 18 registered political parties on the platform of Inter-Party Advisory Council, IPAC.

IPAC said it would counter the apathy by embarking on massive sensitisation, advocacy, enlightenment and mobilisation of the electorate at grassroots level across the country.

The leader of the UN delegation and head of mission, Mr. Serge Gakwandi Kubwimana, said they were in Nigeria to assess the level of preparations for next year’s election and the areas the UN Electoral Needs Assessment Mission would provide support.

He said the delegation will consult with members of the National Assembly, security agencies and the political parties on the preparation and the challenges for the elections.

Kubwimana, who raised the concern over the level of voter participation in previous elections in the country, however said Nigeria was quite experienced in electoral matters and had introduced some reforms in the electoral process.

He explained that the UN Electoral Needs Assessment Mission renders technical assistance by strengthening the capacity of the relevant organs for the election.

In his welcome address, the National Secretary of IPAC, Alhaji Yusuf Dantalle, said the Council will need the assistance of the UN Electoral Needs Assistance Mission in capacity building of political party leaders to equip them for transformational leadership and enhance parties’ internal recruitment process which will produce credible leaders with the people’s mandate to govern.

Alhaji Dantalle, who stood in for the National Chairman of IPAC also said the Council will embark on massive sensitisation, advocacy, enlightenment and mobilisation of the electorate at grassroots level across the country.

He said free, fair, credible, transparent, inclusive, peaceful and acceptable election is the beauty and bedrock of democracy.

According to him, “The forthcoming general election is critical for sustainable democracy in Nigeria.

“We are pleased that a delegation of the United Nations Electoral Needs Assessment Mission (NAM) led by Mr Serge Gakwandi Kubwimana is in Nigeria to have an on-the-spot assessment of our preparation for this critical general election.

“The success of the elections will be a defining moment for our fellow compatriots who desire and yearn for transformational, visionary, progressive, purposeful and resourceful leaders who will restore Nigeria as the great arsenal of democracy in Africa.

“As the umbrella body of the 18 registered political parties in Nigeria, IPAC played a major role to ensure the 2022 Electoral Act amendment bill that would provide the legal framework for the general election was passed by the National Assembly and signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari.

“It added value to the electoral process with the adoption of an improved technology, the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and uploading of election results in the INEC’s Result Viewing portal (IReV) when voting ends and votes are counted at polling units in election day among others.

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“Council will continue to engage stakeholders particularly the National Assembly for further reform of the electoral process including the scrapping of the State Independent Electoral Commissions (SIECs) as Nigerians have lost confidence in their ability to conduct free, fair, credible and inclusive elections at the grassroots level.

“Polls conducted by various SIECs in the country are mere charades with predetermined outcomes that make mockery of our democratic encounter.

“Accordingly, IPAC will boycott these electoral jamborees by state governments in power which have impeded the nation’s democratic advancement at the grassroots, and demands that their functions be carried out by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).”

“In view of this, IPAC supports Local Government autonomy as the third tier of government closest to the people.”

On the voter aparthy in the country, Alhaji Dantelle said: “To sustain the gains of the recent electoral reforms, IPAC will need the assistance of the UN Electoral Needs Assistance Mission in capacity building of political party leaders to equip us for transformational leadership and enhance parties’ internal recruitment process which will produce credible leaders with the people’s mandate to govern.

“To ensure active participation of the populace in the forthcoming elections, IPAC will embark on massive sensitisation, advocacy, enlightenment and mobilisation of the electorate at grassroots level across the country.”

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