From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has highlighted several challenges that pose a threat to the successful conduct of the 2023 general elections.
It named the challenges as violence, non-compliance with statutory timeliness, vote buying, ignorance of the electoral process, outrageous cost of political parties’ expression of interest and nomination forms and more importantly hate speech.
The commission made the revelation at the ongoing two-day capacity building workshop on the commission’s processes, innovation, preparations for the 2023 general elections and critical issues in the Electoral Act 2022 in Lagos.
“The challenges of election management/credible elections are wrong perception of political office, violence, vote buying, non-compliance with statutory timeliness, ignorance of the electoral process, outrageous cost of political parties’ expression of interest and nomination forms and hate speech.”
Specifically lamenting the spate of violence, the commission noted “the culture of thuggery, physical battles between supporters of political parties and candidates, killings, do-or die attitude by political parties candidates and their supporters affect the credibility of elections.”
While decrying the role of money, the electoral umpire said: “Money politics is fast shrinking the political space, becoming a key variable in determining who participates in electoral politics and how. The nomination fees paid by aspirants seeking elective positions have become so high that only the rich and/or those sponsored by the rich can afford.
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On wrong perception of political office, the commission argued that “there is dearth of political ideology and a large number of people go into politics for wrong reasons. Political office is perceived as a means of creating affluence instead of an avenue and opportunity to serve.”
It equally expressed concerns over hate speech, sttessing: “the rising spate of hate speech is a major cause for concern. Politicians and party leaders make unguarded utterances capable of overheating the party and igniting violence. Issue-based campaigns should be encouraged.”
Other challenges, according to the commission are vote buying, which it described as serious monster threatening the 2023 poll and non-compliance with statutory timeliness.
“The ongoing nomination process reveals that political parties are resistant to change. Many of them failed to take advantage of the long period for each nomination activity. They waited till the last day and were unable to conclude nomination/substitution of their candidates before the closure of the INEC candidate nomination Portal (ICNP).
“On the challenge of ignorance of electoral process, the political parties and other stakeholders have not carried out enough voter education at their members, supporters and prospective voters especially on the use of technology in the electoral process.
“Without sensitisation and adequate political mobilisation, the electorate may wrong perception of the process, difficulty in making informed choices as well as lack the strategic and tactical wherewithal to defend the sanctity of their votes. Moreover, ignorance of the process also makes it easy for supporters of political parties and candidates to be recruited as perpetrators of violence,” INEC highlighted.