From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) said Nigerians are losing confidence in the electoral system because of malpractice, manipulation, violence, commercialisation and privatisation of political parties and offices for self-centred interests.
This is as it accused the Federal Government and military of treating the issue of national security with levity while all geopolitical zones continue to bleed in a manner that portends grave danger to the nation’s hard-earned democracy.
Chairman of Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, stated this, yesterday, at press conference on the state of the electoral process in Nigeria and the unveiling of group’s agenda for the next four years.
He said the board and TMG members would do their best to advocate electoral transparency and accountability by mobilising Nigerians to demand positive change in the electoral process.
On the state of the nation, he said TMG is compelled to react to several unsavoury developments in the polity and condemned the recent attack on the Nigeria Defence Academy.
He said: “We expect that government would nip the security issue in the bud and toe an acceptable and less divisive path of bringing a lasting end to the security challenges that presently bedevilling the country.
“We, however, note with concern that the Federal Government and military have been treating the issue of our national security with levity while all geopolitical zones continue to bleed in a manner that portends grave danger to our hard-earned democracy.
“The electoral processes have had their share of violence with the secessionist movement calling for a boycott of the election with threats to disrupt the poll, thugs razing down electoral management offices, killing of security personnel, burning of police stations and kidnapping of election officials.
“There is a pervasive atmosphere of uncertainty as to when the government will address the cases of banditry and kidnapping that have engulfed the country.
“TMG calls on the government to urgently address our multifaceted security challenges before the conduct of the 2023 election to prevent voter apathy that may arise due to the inability of voters to travel to exercise their civic rights, the safety of electoral materials and election officials and the credibility of election results.
“Corruption in Nigeria’s electoral processes is showing no signs of leaving soon as politicians continue to flaunt unaccounted campaign spendings and party financing by using illegitimate funds as the sole means of winning voters over.
“Independent National Electoral Commission and other relevant agencies need to tackle the menace to allow voters to form a more objective opinion of the people they are to vote for.
“Since 1999, credible local government elections in Nigeria have been illusory, the processes and outcome of the council elections have remained the will of the state and ruling party rather than reflecting the consent and aspirations of the people as the electorate.
“The political interference from the state government and partisanship of the state independent electoral commission has led to a lack of trust in local elections and the increasing cases of voters’ apathy with inconsistency in the application of electoral guidelines and poor communication channels between state electoral commissions and electoral stakeholders.
“TMG sees this as rape of local governance that portends grave danger for participatory democracy, accountability and rural development. We call on the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, political parties and relevant stakeholders to join voices in ensuring that credible council elections are prioritised and conducted as at when due and reforms should be put in place for local institutional strengthening and framework for local government development.
“It is also of great concern that the autonomy of states judiciaries and Houses of Assembly are yet to take effect. This has continued to fuel disregard for the rule of law and court orders. Without the autonomy, separation of powers and checks and balances in Nigeria will remain only on paper as the executive continues to technically wield the powers of the other two arms of government.”
Rafsanjani also urged the media to “take a deep study of the political environment, take a continuing interest in the political affairs of this great country, understand and suggest areas you feel are in need of further engagements by the TMG so that we can all move into the field to succeed.”