Skip to main content
Citizen's Dialogue

2023 Elections: Citizens’ Hope On The Line, Electoral Umpires Must Be Sufficiently Transparent

Nnenna Ukeje, a former member House of Representatives has stated that citizens’ hope in the electoral process in recent times has been heightened and that if anything goes wrong in the coming elections, it will be very difficult for the country to contain citizens' reactions.

Ukeje said this at the ‘Citizens Dialogue on the 2023 Elections, a live debate series organized on Tuesday evening by Yiaga Africa, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and Channels Television. 

Panelists at the Citizen's Dialogue
Panelists at the Citizen's Dialogue

“If we start now to question the integrity of the electoral umpires, it affects the credibility of the process. Citizens’ hope is on the line at this time, therefore if anything affects the outcome of the election, it will be very difficult to contain the reactions in the aftermath of the election,” said the former Honourable.

Hon Nnenna Ukeje speaking with Seun Okinbaloye, the host, paying attention
Hon Nnenna Ukeje speaking with Seun Okinbaloye, the host, paying attention

The Citizens' Election Dialogue series is aimed at providing critical information on the electoral process and a platform for candidates, citizens, and other stakeholders to debate their strategies and manifestos, which will enable citizens to make informed choices and be inspired to come out and vote. This first edition of the debate had representatives of each of the major political parties, civil society organizations, and security as speakers discussing issues around the electoral environment, vote buying, and electoral security.

A cross-section of citizens at the Dialogue
A cross-section of citizens at the Dialogue

Former National Chairman of the All Progressives' Congress (APC) spoke to reforms of the electoral system, saying that Nigerians must commend President Muhammadu Buhari for signing the Electoral Act 2022 and for the recent improvements in the electoral process.

Adams Oshiomole
Adams Oshiomole

Dino Melaye, the spokesperson for the Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign Council, emphasized that President Muhammadu Buhari needs to improve security to boost the confidence of voters ahead of the 2023 elections. In his words, “Going by the magnitude of banditry going on, going by the ravaging kidnapping that is on the increase, going by the insecurity in the eastern part of the country, in the north-east, north-west, and recently with the brigade of guards that is the last line of our defense as a nation being attacked, where two officers and six men of the brigade of guards were killed, and we are yet to see anyone paraded or arrested, it gives me a lot of concern,” said Melaye.

Dino Melaye making a point at the Dialogue
Dino Melaye making a point at the Dialogue

He noted however that the Nigerian electoral process has improved, saying politics is no longer a “do or die” affair in Nigeria.

Speaking on the issue of electoral officials, Hon Abdulmumin Jibrin of the New Nigeria Peoples' Party (NNPP) expressed concern on behalf of his party on the quality and capacity of nominees for the position of Resident Electoral Commissioners.

"Bequeathing a free and fair elections is not a favour but a responsibility that the President has to Nigerians," said Hon. Jibrin

Hon Abdulmumin Jibrin
Hon Abdulmumin Jibrin

Addressing the issue of electoral violence and the growing distrust by the populace, the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Bala Senchi said that the commendation received by the Police during and after the elections in Anambra, Ekiti, and Osun elections is an indication that the police is committed to ensuring credible polls in 2023. 

DIG Bala Senchi
DIG Bala Senchi

‘‘The police is fully prepared and ready to ensure your safety in the coming elections,’’ he assured Nigerians.

The representative of the Labour Party, Oseloka Obaze in his submissions queried the preparation of the Nigeria Police Force, saying that there is a difference between what you plan to do and the situation on ground as Nigeria prepares for the election.

"Nigerians are not necessarily confident in their security during the elections, but can only remain hopeful," he said.

Oseloka Obaze speaking at the Dialogue
Oseloka Obaze speaking at the Dialogue

Regarding the inclusion of marginalized members of society, disability rights activist, Grace Jerry lamented the rising disregard for Persons With Disability, stating that electoral violence affects PWDs more, and many people have also become PWDs as a result of electoral violence. She called on election stakeholders to hold intense training for electoral staff and deployed security personnel regarding their approach towards PWDs. She also reminded everyone that disability transcends physical disability, and therefore people must take extra care to be sensitive regarding disability.

Grace Jerry of Inclusive Friends
Grace Jerry of Inclusive Friends

There were also contributions and questions from members of the audience which set the tone for the conversation by the panelists.

Audience contributionAudience contributionAudience contributionAudience contributionAudience contributionAudience contribution

 

About

Yiaga Africa is a non-profit civic hub of change makers committed to the promotion of democratic governance, human rights and civic engagement. With its operational base in Abuja, Nigeria, Yiaga Africa focuses on in-depth research, providing critical analysis on key democratic and governance issues, crafting practical solutions, training and empowering citizens to lead change in their community. Yiaga Africa implements several innovative programs aimed at stimulating active citizenship, protecting human rights and deepening democratic governance. We invest in building networks and social movements to drive social change and transformation. Yiaga Africa has leadership structures and members in all 36 states and 774 Local Government Areas (LGA) of Nigeria.