As preparations for the 2023 general elections intensifies, the Election Security Support Centre (ESSC) of CLEEN Foundation is observing and documenting emerging key issues as a build up to the forthcoming general elections, particularly on the conduct of political party primaries, delegates, party faithfuls and security agencies.
Having observed some public safety and security concerns around the country as it relates to the said elections.
In line with Section 84 (8) of the Electoral Act, 2022, delegates, elected across the registered political parties, are to be used for the selection of candidates to represent their respective parties at the 2023 general election. The qualified and eligible delegates in the primaries and national conventions across the political parties were three (3) Ad-hoc delegates per ward, selected at the ward congresses and one (1) national delegate per local government, elected at the local government area congresses.
Subsequently, we witnessed the “dollarization” of delegates’ votesat various party primaries. The Foundation is concerned about this growing phenomenon as this represents a major dent in the nation’s democratic process and will ultimately raise questions as to the legitimacy of the entire electoral structure and processes and its ability to facilitate the emergence of credible candidates. To this end, the CLEEN Foundation urges political party delegates to prioritise the progress of Nigeria as patriotic citizens and to treat the monetization of the party primary process as an anti-Nigeria call to mortgage the future of Nigerians and a threat to our fragile democracy .
The CLEEN Foundation calls on all anti-corruption agencies especially the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practises Commission (ICPC) to probe all allegatioms of corrupt practices said to be have been initiated at the instance of the either the delegates and aspirants during the party primaries cycle.
Furthermore, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has constantly affirmed its preparedness to conduct the 2023 general election especially since the new Electoral Act was passed and gazetted, introducing new regulations, guidelines and subsidiary legislations, which will guide political stakeholders ahead of the elections. We are however concerned that although INEC had set a deadline of June 3 for the completion of all party primaries, the Commission on the 27th of May 2022, announced a six-day extension of the deadline. This action by INEC may be interpreted as a show of bias and conspiracy with the ruling party which might lead to distrust in the electoral process considering that most political parties hurriedly conducted their primaries in a bid to meet up with the earlier stipulated deadline. Even more worrisome is the fact that INEC had assured political parties that it would adher strictly to the election timetable earlier published. The perception this creates, does not help in building a reputation of a fair and impartial umpire ahead of the elections.
The Foundation applauds the conduct of security and law enforcement agencies during the party primaries. It is worthy of note that during the party primaries, security and law enforcement personnel were present and conducted themselves professionally. We urge security agencies and anti-corruption agencies to continue to follow due process and the rule of law as we move closer to the general elections. Although the conduct of party primaries across the states were laudable, some party primaries have been marred by violence in states like Lagos, Ogun, Taraba, and Rivers where deaths have been reported. We aurge INEC, the politicians and political stakeholders to always shun electoral violence, vote trading and also be fair, unbiased and objective in the discharge of their duties while we approach the elections.
CLEEN Foundation (formerly known as Centre for Law Enforcement Education) is a nongovernmental organization established in January 1998 with the mission of promoting public safety, security and accessible justice through the strategies of empirical research, legislative advocacy, demonstration programmes and publications, in partnership with government, civil society and the private sector. CLEEN Foundation has a special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations in New York, the United States of America since June 2020, and Observer Status with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights based in Banjul, The Gambia.
Ag. Executive Director