INEC Chairman Inaugurates The Electoral Forum

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22

By Chimezie Godfrey

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, on Tuesday inaugurated The Electoral Forum, a civil society led initiative aimed at reforming the nation’s electoral process.

The Electoral Hub, a brainchild of Initiative for Research, Innovation and Advocacy in Development (IRIAD), conceptualised The Electoral Forum as a way to pool resource persons from Electoral Management Bodies together with other electoral stakeholders to conceptualise solutions to the unique problems facing the electoral process in Nigeria.

By facilitating discussions among different stakeholders through this forum, The Electoral Hub hopes to deepen understanding of the electoral process in Nigeria, as well as provide solutions to improve electoral integrity and credibility.

The Forum has three specific objectives, 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 EMBs in NigeriaIn order to facilitate the achievement of these objectives, the Forum will have meetings at least once every two months, with more meetings called in between scheduled times as and when burning issues arise.

Each meeting will have a specific focus; the focus of our inaugural meeting is the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021.

The Forum has been established under the chairmanship of Prof. Adebayo Olukoshi who is a distinguished professor at the Wits School of Governance, Wits University.

He was the immediate past Director for Africa and West Asia at the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA).

He has decades of experience in international relations, governance and human rights, having served in various organisations, including the UN African Institute for Economic Development and Planning, the Africa Governance Institute, the Council for Development of Social Science Research in Africa, the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, the Nordic Africa Institute in Uppsala, and the South Centre in Geneva.

Another notable member of the Electoral Forum is a former chairman of INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega, currently a professor in the Department of Political Science, Bayero University, Kano.

Other members of the forum include Hajia Amina Zakari, Prof. Anthonia Taye Simbine, Prof. Olatunde Babawale, Mr. E.A. Johnson, Mr. Lawal Wase, Mr. Okey Ndeche, Mrs Ikwunma Halliday, Hajia Rahmat Abisoye Abdullahi, Ms Lois Auta, Mr Mike Asukwo, and Dr. Kole Shettima.

The Electoral Forum is supported by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa, a grant-making and advocacy organisation focused on equality, justice, democratic governance, human rights and knowledge generation.

At the inauguration of The Electoral Forum at the Grand Pela Hotel & Suites, Durumi, Abuja on Tuesday, Director of The Electoral Hub, Ms Princess Hamman-Obels, urged members of the press, civil society, and other invited guests to look out for the publicity materials from the Forum, share them within their spheres of influence, and join in the advocacy for better electoral governance in Nigeria.

Hamman-Obels said, “I am strongly convinced that with the support of the allies present here today, we can bring about the change that we want to see”.

Speaking on the objectives of the public launch and inaugural meeting, she disclosed that The Electoral Hub organised the public launch and inaugural meeting to formally launch The Electoral Forum, determine the operation and management of the forum, produce shared understanding among forum members of their expected roles and responsibilities.

Others include to review the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021, identify problems in the Bill, and conceptualise solutions to them; and Identify further areas that require electoral reform in Nigeria.

Members of the Forum were expected to participate actively in discussions and brainstorming sessions, with the aim of conceptualising solutions to electoral problems in Nigeria.

The discussions from the inaugural meeting would be used to produce outputs such as press statements, policy briefs, advocacy briefs, opinion pieces, and infographics to publicise solutions.