The meeting was held at Nassarawa Guest house on the 28th of October, 2016 with many dignitaries from Civil Society Organizations, Religious Leaders, Politicians, Academicians and Security Personnel in attendance. Among the people in attendance include Professor Kamilu Fagge from the Department of Political Science, Bayero University, Kano, Professor Aisha Isma’il of the same Department, Special Assistance to his Excellency the Executive Governor of Kano State on NGO’s, Dr. Abdullahi Chula, representatives of Kano State Commissioner of Police and Civil Defense Corps, and representative President of PLWD (Galadiman Sarkin Guragu)
The aim of the meeting was to discuss the process, successes and challenges of the 2015 election and the possibility of successful election in 2019 and discuss ways to enhance citizens’ participation in the electoral process among other things.
The first speaker Mr. Kenneth from Actionaid Nigeria gave the overview of the project, research conducted and the project’s plans for the fourth coming election. The second speaker professor Kamilu Fagge described the previous election as the freest ever conducted in the history of Nigeria and also said violence was very minimal compared to the elections conducted before it. The speaker commended AAN and CITAD for the research conducted but he raised some certain issues, the research is not in the local languages of the people, secondly, in terms of media balances there are many people and media that were not allowed to broadcast the oppositions’ campaign programs. Among the issues he highlighted at the meeting include the followings:
- Lack of funds: the money released to INEC was not enough for it to handle the election properly.
- There was fear in the country thinking that politicians will not accept the outcomes of the election.
- Another problem identified by him was that in some places it was reported that registered voters in some states had casted their votes 100% which in reality will not be possible.
Professor Aisha focused her discussion on INEC and beyond 2015 election. Among the critical areas she discussed includes:
- INEC must be an independent body free from any external influence if the country is serious about conducting free and fair election.
- Problems with Ad-hock staff; INEC is not given these staff adequate training on the new technology used in 2015 election.
- There is the need for people to have a proper knowledge on what election is all about and to also know their rights.
- INEC should define the role of security personnel and their limitations in order to avoid election rigging.
- All the electoral materials must reached their destinations on time.
- INEC must provide safe place for electoral materials to avoid any tempering.
- The country still has problem with electronic voting. There are a lot to consider like people living outside the country (Diaspora) and those in the riverine areas where it will take a lot of time, energy and resources before reaching such areas.
- There are problems with elected people, when they are elected they don’t want give chance to other people to also go there and give their contributions.
RESPONSES FROM THE PARTICIPANTS
The session was facilitated by Kabiru Dakata an activist and a staff with Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD). The flow was opened to the participants to give their contributions and their experiences in the 2015 election. Below are some of the responses:
- The first contributor mentioned that it was the community people that brought generator in his ward at Dakata and other materials needed by the INEC officials in his area in order to have a successful election at the centre.
- Another contributor mentioned that in Tunga, Karaye local government their card reader hooked which hindered the election activities.
- Voters’ education had helped a lot in Gaya because there was high turn-over of women at the town due to voters’ education.
- One contributor stated that security personnel have connived with some politicians and rigged election in his ward.
- In one village called Kunkuyi in Rano local government some parties shared the ballot papers among themselves.
- In Tudun Bayero violence erupted immediately after the announcement. Some mobs in the area felt that the person announced as a victor was not the one with highest votes casted.
- Most of the computers in some polling units were sub-standard which led to a lot of problems during the election.
- Still some people are in the habit of electing politicians based on what they will be given, a participant testified that he himself distributed money during the last election.
- Another participants mentioned that there was problem of turn-out in his area (political apathy).
- An emphasis was made about people refusing to cast their votes until they have been paid, INEC officials and security personnel contributed a lot in this area.
- The election arena was not conducive for women and people with disabilities.
Special Assistance to the Executive Governor of Kano state on NGO’s Dr. Abdullahi Chula in his remarks mentioned that delegates and party EXCOs are the major problem in selecting party’s candidates because most of them are very greedy and only voted candidates for his financial strength not credibility. Majority of the delegates made it business, instead of voting people that will bring changes and developmental works to their communities, they follow their greedy minds to control them and collect money from party candidates and at the end they ended voting incompetent people.
He also suggested that it will be a good idea if government will be given public holidays during voters’ registration so that civil servants and general people will be able to register.
SUGGESTIONS AND COMMENTS
- INEC should merge accreditation and voting.
- There is the need for constitutional amendment in order to allow the executive to execute developmental works.
- There should be some special lectures on good governance/leadership to politicians especially those in power.
- There should be a time limitation for senators and representatives.
- All electoral bodies under states should be abolished.
- The dignity of the traditional rulers should be restored because they still have some role to play during election.
- Party candidates should be selected based on credibility not financial strength
- INEC should be recruiting people with computer skills to avoid problems.
- In selecting candidate people should make sure that any candidate selected has no criminal records or something like that.
- NDLEA should be included in the election activities, because most of the people that are disturbing election activities are usually on drugs.
- INEC officials should send staff that understand the local languages of the communities
- Insufficient of the polling units
- None militarization of the Polling Units
- INEC should present Election Time Table on Time
- More Involvement of the Traditional/Religious leaders
- Adoption of Justice Uwais Report
- Independent candidature and not too young to run bill should be passed to encourage youth participation
- Independency of the State election commissions
- There is need to add political education apart from Voter education for politicians, INEC should introduce it in collaboration with some other institutions to make it part of the registration for party’s candidates
The closing was made by Malam Ahmad Yakasai from CITAD. He thanked both the supporters (AAN) and the participants for taking their time to deliberate on the electoral issues. He called on the participants to start sensitizing people on the electoral issues as nobody will come and solve our problems but we ourselves