Stakeholders at an all-inclusive two days workshop where issues of corruption and lack of accountability during general elections were prioritized have identified low civic knowledge and lack of voter education as some of the factors militating against credible polls and democratic development in Nigeria.
Hosted for two day intensive training by BOCODEP, the stakeholders who cut across multilateral sectors of the society brainstormed on ways the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC), the main body responsible for general polls in Nigeria can improve on its duty by giving citizens corruption-free balloting.
Participants led by resource persons from BOCODEP agreed that the issues of money politics, votes by and ballot stuffing, underage voting and poor voter education remain a perpetual blemish on most elections conducted by INEC.
The workshop agreed that the incumbency factor and the use of government resources by candidates in office have been major elements that robbed Nigeria of a credible election.
The participant who were unanimous on the consensus that cases of corruption during elections are hard to be stopped, suggested that deliberate awareness campaigns, sensitization on civil responsibility and voter education must be sustained all through the years to get electorates properly informed.
The participants insisted that INEC and IPAC as well as other civil society actors must activate existing laws that punish election offenders. That until offenders are punished examples would not be set for others.
The two-day workshop which took place at Barwee Hotel, Maiduguri, had also emphasized the need to bring the media in the front row of the advocacy such that advocacy messages on the need for citizens to shun money politics and insist on voting candidates for public offices based on merit.
The participants as well as BOCODEP agreed that only actionable advocacy rather than words of mouth can help Nigeria get out of its electoral woods, hence calling on relevant bodies to support committed advocates for accountable and corruption free elections to carry out their jobs.
The workshop also encouraged members of the public to cultivate the idea of having a “citizens charter of demands” each time politicians come to them for campaigns, and use the same to hold them accountable during the next elections. That politicians who have significantly failed in the checklist of issues raised in the charter of demands should be voted out.
The workshop which ended on Friday called on INEC on the need to empower observers and operatives of the EFCC and ICPC to monitor the spending of politicians during campaigns. And that community leaders, especially those in remote hinterlands should be sensitized on the dangers of underaged voters and money politics ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Borno Coalition for Democracy and Progress (BOCODEP) is a civil society organisation based in Maiduguri, Borno State, established to promote peaceful coexistence, democracy and human rights in Nigeria.