Electoral Hub tasks FG on inclusiveness in appointing INEC RECs

By Angela Atabo

 The Electoral Hub, a civil society organization, has tasked the Federal Government to ensure inclusiveness in the appointment of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs).

Ms Princess Hamman-Obels, Initiative for Research, Innovation and Advocacy in Development (IRIAD), the Electoral Hub said this in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja.

Hamman-Obels also advised the government to ensure strict compliance with the Constitution, National Gender Policy and Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) Act, in appointments to ensure inclusiveness.

She said that complying with these would ensure that appointment in all facets of governance was in line with the principles of inclusivity, equity, fairness and justice.

She commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his quick appointment of 19 new INEC RECs in the country.

She said that the appointment was timely to fill the vacancies occasioned by the end of tenure for over 20 RECs whose tenure ended on July 6 and Aug. 15.

“These timely appointments are good for the certainty and stability of the electoral process. It is also critical for effective preparation for the 2023 general election.

“However, the Electoral Hub raises concerns over the poor representation of women and PWD in Buhari’s appointment of 19 new INEC RECs.

“We are dismayed at the poor representation of women and People with Disabilities (PWD) in the appointments.

“The President failed to use this opportunity to right the poor gender representation in his administration with only three women appointees out of the 19 new appointees,” she said.

Hamman-Obels said that out of the new appointees, only 15.8 per cent were women indicating poor women representation in addition there was no PWDs representation.

According to her, this trend is also replicated at the national level with only two women national commissioners (15.4 per cent) out of 13 member commission and no PWD.

She said that the poor state of inclusion at the commission was deplorable.

“As the primary Electoral Management Body (EMB) responsible for presidential, governorship, and legislative elections across the country, INEC has the power to promote gender inclusion in the electoral process.

“However, its ability to do this will be limited if it is not gender-inclusive internally.

“Given the poor state of women’s representation in decision-making processes in Nigeria, it is imperative to have an all-inclusive EMB (gender and PWD inclusive EMB) that can further drive the inclusion of women and other marginalised groups,” she said.

Hamman-Obels tasked the government to implement the National Gender Policy, which called for at least 35 per cent affirmative action for women in elective and appointive offices.

She also called for the implementation of sections 29 and 30 of the PWDs (Prohibition) Act 2018 which mandated the government to ensure that PWDs fully participated in the conduct of public affairs without discrimination with at least five per cent inclusion.

She advised that future appointments should take this principle seriously; otherwise, the nation risked completely marginalising women and other vulnerable groups from meaningful participation in public life.

“Our demands will not only improve the status of marginalised groups – women and PWDs but also promote democratic consolidation in Nigeria.

“ This is because the democratic principles of participation, representation, and inclusion will be better adhered to when women and other marginalised groups are included in democratic institutions and practices,’’ she said.

Hamman-Obels tasked the government to ensure that future appoints in INEC and other public institutions were more inclusive and equitable. (NAN)