The International Republican Institute (IRI) and National Democratic Institute (NDI) have regretted what they described as the lack of progress in election administration and conduct of political parties in Nigeria. Addressing a press conference on Monday, March 11 Abuja, the African Regional Director of IRI, John Tomaszewski, expressed the disappointment of his delegation at the conduct of the 2019 general elections. He stated that opinions of Nigerians on the entire exercise pointed to retrogression, as the country had not made any significant progress since the 2015 outing.
According to him, the secrecy of the ballot was not uniformly protected in polling units observed, adding that insufficient physical space within some of the units meant citizens marked and cast their ballots in very close proximity to party agents, polling and security officials as well as the public. He also called for a national conversation on progress made and vulnerabilities that must be overcome to further strengthen the credibility of the electoral process and safeguard the nation’s democracy.
He urged the federal government to expeditiously implement the reports of the Justice Mohammed Uwais and Senator Ken Nnamani panels raised in 2008 and 2017 to allow for the establishment of relevant institutions to oversee political parties and prosecute electoral offences and other responsibilities that currently impede Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) focus on election management. He noted that the Nigerian government had not given vent to the 35 per cent affirmative principle captured in the 2006 National Gender Policy, adding that the National Assembly had continually bungled the opportunity to adopt legislation that supports greater participation of women in politics. He further called on the National Assembly to prioritise legislation that would promote women’s leadership and political participation, notably by the adoption of the Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill.