Electoral Forum will deepen understanding of democratic process – Olukoshi


By Chimezie Godfrey

The Electoral Forum recently launched by ‘The Electoral Hub’ will deepen understanding of the electoral process in Nigeria.

The Chairman of the Forum, Professor Bayo Olukoshi who made the assertion in a statement on Monday, recalled that the public launch of The Electoral Forum was conducted on Tuesday, 31 August 2021, in Abuja.

The Electoral Forum was organised by The Electoral Hub, an organ of the Initiative for Research, Innovation and Advocacy in Development (IRIAD), with the support of the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).

The Forum, pools resource persons from electoral management bodies (EMBs) together with other electoral stakeholders to conceptualise solutions to the unique problems facing the electoral process in Nigeria.

The launch of the Forum was attended physically by over 40 persons, and virtually by over 20 persons. Participants were a combination of civil society members, current and past EMB members, and members of the press.

Also present were the highly distinguished Forum members including retired National Electoral Commissioners, Resident Electoral Commissioners, Deputy Secretaries, and Directors of INEC; the representative of the Chairman of Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC); and the Chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), the African Action Congress (AAC), Dr Leonard Nzenwa and Dr Kole Shettima, Africa Director, MacArthur Foundation, among others.

Olukoshi expressed joy that the Forum had in its membership some of the best and experienced individuals who had contributed their own quota in advancing “our democratic process in Nigeria and in strengthening institutions of democratisation, such as the election management process.”

He said,”By facilitating discussions among different stakeholders, we would be able to deepen understanding of the electoral process in Nigeria, as well as provide solutions to improve electoral integrity and credibility.”

He stated that he looked forward to working closely with members of the Forum in achieving the objectives for which they had assembled together.

The Executive Director, The Electoral Hub’, Princess Hamman-Obels, explained that the Forum had three objectives which include, to facilitate systematic electoral reform; to promote evidence-based law-making, policymaking; and advocacy on elections in Nigeria, and to advance strategies to improve capacities and credibility of electoral management bodies in Nigeria.

Senator Ovie Omo-Agege represented by Barr Daniel Bwala stated that a good electoral process can only be sustained if it is founded on an equally adequate electioneering culture.

He said,”No matter how good the clauses are in our electoral laws, if the other aspects of the electioneering process are flawed, the electoral process itself will ultimately be flawed.

Professor Jibrin Ibrahim, Senior Fellow, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), speaking on the Nigerian political class, explained that the story has been one of factionalism, fractionalism, fratricidal struggle, and killings.

Calling for political revolution, he argued that political revolution will come when Nigerian citizens decide to change the political class, “we will form our own parties, we will be honest, we will be people of integrity, and we will change the playing ground.”

The Forum was formally launched by the Chairman, Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) Professor Mahmood Yakubu, represented by Barrister May Agbamuche-Mbu.

Yakubu expressed hope that the Forum would enrich “our knowledge and enhance our understanding of the electoral process in Nigeria.”

He was also optimistic that the Forum would serve as a good reference point for political parties, voters and the public at large.

Following the launch by the INEC Chairman, and Forum members proceeded to a closed session where they reviewed and analysed the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021 in close detail.

Outputs from the session, including advocacy asks and infographics, have been released on the Forum page: https://electoralhub.iriad.org/electoralforum.