The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that all the national institutions with the responsibility of tracking and combating illicit flow of funds as well as the broadcast and print media regulatory agencies will monitor campaign funding and spendings of the 2023 general elections.
Institutions that track illicit funds in Nigeria include Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences (ICPC) and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said this on Wednesday in Abuja at the stakeholders’ forum organised by the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room (CSSR).
“Turning to campaign finance, the commission is determined to tackle the matter frontally. Areas of violation include party and candidate expenditure beyond what is provided by law and the diabolical practice of vote buying at polling units (PUs) on Election Day. The commission will tomorrow, Thursday, 24th November, 2022 publish a summary of the guidelines on finances and election expenses of parties and candidates.
“Beyond that, we are mobilising every national institution with the responsibility of tracking and combating the illicit flow of funds as well as the broadcast and print media regulatory agencies to confront the problem head-on. The details of this will be unveiled shortly,” Yakubu said.
He noted that the 2023 elections are about 93 days away, noting that preparations started immediately after the 2019 general elections.
The INEC boss said that based on the 14 activities listed in the Timetable and Schedule of Activities released by the commission on February 26, 2022, it had so far implemented nine tasks.
He said, “Similarly, we have made tremendous progress in the production and delivery of critical sensitive and non-sensitive election materials to our state offices. Recruitment and training of ad hoc staff for the election are ongoing.
“On electoral logistics, particularly the arrangements for the movement of personnel and materials to various locations during elections, the commission met again with the service providers and reviewed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the road transport unions.
“Arising from our experience in previous elections, the commission has expanded the scope of collaboration to include the marine union for the riverine areas. Very soon, the revised MoU will be signed with the service providers to cover both land and maritime transportation.”
On security, Yakubu said the commission had said repeatedly that it is an area of concern, but surmountable through shared responsibilities, involving the security agencies, the political actors and their supporters, the media and all other critical stakeholders.
He said, “The perennial insecurity in the country is a source for concern. This existing challenge is compounded by the unfortunate incidents of attacks on campaigns, rallies and processions across all political parties. Although the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 and the commission’s Regulations and Guidelines for Political Parties are clear, the commission has found it necessary to remind political parties, candidates and their supporters on the provisions of the law and their responsibilities.
“Accordingly, tomorrow Thursday 24th November 2022, the commission will release a summary highlighting the legal provisions governing the conduct of political rallies, processions and campaigns. This will be uploaded to our website and social media platforms.”
On her part, the Convener, SCSR, Ene Obi, said the Situation Room represented Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) at the fore of working to strengthen democracy in Nigeria.
According to her, last year, the Situation Room launched its Credibility Threshold for the 2023 General Elections for the second time, the first having been issued in the 2019 general elections.
Obi said although, the coalition was pleased to see several improvements in the off-cycle governorship elections held since 2019, there were still several challenges of utmost concern.
Also, the Head, Governance and Stability, FCDO, British High Commission, Abuja, Ms Elizebeth Drew, commended the contribution of civil society to electoral reform processes.
“The UK stands ready to continue to support INEC and all relevant actors in efforts to effectively execute the polls within this context. We are proud of our long-term partnership and support for INEC as it has worked to continue to improve the electoral system and of our decade-long support to the Situation Room that has allowed the active participation of citizens.
“It is fundamental to that process that citizens are able to turn out and exercise their franchise in a peaceful and conducive environment. As the largest democracy in Africa, Nigeria’s leadership on electoral reform and practice is important for the continent and beyond. Other countries look to Nigeria on democracy issues,” she said.
Also, the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali-Baba represented by ACP Onaghise Osayande, said the force was working to guarantee an enabling environment for the conduct of the 2023 elections.