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Samson Itodo: Kogi, Bayelsa, and Imo State Elections Reflect The Need For Electoral Reform

“Citizens have a fundamental role to play in recapturing INEC.”

Nigeria is gearing up for a crucial town hall on electoral reforms to address the complexities in the electoral legal framework, including the constitution and the electoral act of 2022. Since 1999, the country has undergone three reforms in the electoral process, and this initiative seeks to create a national platform for discussing and enhancing Nigeria’s electoral system.

Samson Itodo, the Executive Director of Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth, and Advancement (YIAGA) Africa, stressed the need for electoral reforms, especially in light of the recent 2023 elections. In an interview with Arise News, Itodo stated, “I think the experiences of the general elections and of two weeks ago in Kogi, Bayelsa, and Imo State call for a deeper reflection on electoral reforms.” He highlighted concerns about the democratic recession witnessed globally and the weakening of institutions meant to check the excesses of individuals or groups sabotaging the democratic process.

Itodo emphasised the capture of the election management body, INEC, as a significant threat to the electoral process and called for citizens’ involvement in recapturing INEC, “Citizens have a fundamental role to play in recapturing INEC, so that they can deliver high-quality elections with a high integrity quotient that inspires confidence on the part of the people.”. 

He also raised concerns about the role of the judiciary in electoral issues, “Initially, we had thought that the biggest threat to our electoral process was our politicians, but now the judiciary seems to have disproved that notion because of the nature and the way they have managed election issues.”

Calling for a fundamental discussion on the type of democracy Nigeria practices and if they want to to practise it,”Our sense at YIAGA Africa is that Nigerians clamour for democracy; they just don’t like this kind of democracy that tolerates bad behaviour on the part of our political class and on the part of our democratic institutions.” 

Regarding the town hall, Itodo encouraged citizens to participate actively, saying, “This town hall hosted by the Senate and the House Committee on Electoral Matters is an opportunity for citizens to come and speak and say, hey, these are the issues we want addressed in the law.” He provided various platforms, including an email address (inecsenatecommittee@gmail.com), thematic issues for submissions, and the Arise TV broadcast on Tuesday, November 28th, from 10 am to 1 pm.

On passing INEC guidelines into law, Itodo discussed the clamour for the electronic transmission of results and the ambiguity in the law. He urged the National Assembly to amend the law during this reform opportunity, making electronic transmission compulsory. Additionally, he addressed other proposed reforms. 

Emphasising the importance of the political class committing to playing by the rules for effective legislation he said “At the heart of this, we can have the best of the laws, but if our political class doesn’t make a commitment to play the game by its rules and disregards the rule of law, then there’s no legislation that can limit this display of absolute disregard for our laws.”

Kiki Garba

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