By Ibrahim Umar
The Independent National Electoral Commission says it will use devices to track campaign expenses of political parties for the 2019 general elections.
The Chairman of the commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who stated this, also warned incumbent elected public office holders against using state resources to fund campaigns.
“Another interesting area of campaign finance spending to watch out for is the use of state administrative resources by incumbents, particularly now that the campaigns have kicked off. Section 100 (2) of the Electoral Act provides that state apparatus shall not be employed to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate at any election,” Yakubu stated.
According to him, the commission has also reviewed and redesigned its campaign finance tracking and reporting forms that will be used by parties, candidates, and observers.
The INEC Chairman, represented by the commission’s National Commissioner, Prof. Anthonia Okoosi-Simbine, stated these in Abuja during a stakeholders’ roundtable with the theme, ‘2019 elections – Political corruption and other emerging issues.’
The programme was organized by a coalition of 400 civil rights organizations, Transition Monitoring Groups, and two non-governmental organizations: Voice to the People and Hope Givers.
The Chairperson of TMG, Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, said the roundtable was convened to seek input from experts on how to ensure free, fair and credible elections in 2019.
“Experiences from the off-cycle elections have shown the widespread manifestation of political corruption, possibilities of widespread electoral violence, vote-buying, and voter inducement. The implication or impact of vote-buying on Nigeria’s maturing democracy is well traversed.
“Through this consultation, TMG has developed people’s charter across the 36 states with the aim of using same to make demands of political party candidates to promote accountability during and after elections.”
In his paper titled ‘2019 Elections – Electoral violence and other security concerns’, a professor of African History, Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Ibadan, Isaac Olawale Albert, warned, “Nigeria could go ablaze in 2019 if we allow things to get worse.”
He said, “Electoral violence and other security concerns are not only physical but also psychological and structural. People run to their villages during elections largely because of the fear already generated by those in charge of the elections. That is psychological violence; they run because they know that the structure of the society is already compromised by certain things around them. They use what they see now to predict what could happen tomorrow.
“What we saw in Ekiti, Osun, and Rivers states suggest we have obvious problems. We need to acknowledge these problems here and discuss them rather than keep living in denial. The present structure of the Nigerian society requires that we are more careful with the 2019 elections; the country could go ablaze if we allow things to get worse.”
At the event, the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, represented by the Commissioner of Police (Federal Operations), Kenneth Ebrison, said the police would deploy undercover operatives to infiltrate the rank and file of political parties and their associates in order to frustrate vote-buying in the 2019 general elections.
He said, “We have reviewed the development and as a result redesigned the campaign finance tracking and reporting forms that will be used by political parties, candidates and monitors, essentially splitting the forms to make them less wieldy and cumbersome to complete.
“This we will do by liaising with candidates and party campaign offices and organizations to deliver the format forms for reporting campaign finances (income and expenditure) and tracking of visible campaign finances of purposively selected political parties and respective governorship and presidential candidates.”
The IGP listed potential threats to the 2019 polls as vote-buying, the threat by militant groups, rigging, acts of thuggery, flashpoints of electoral violence, ballot box snatching and small arms and light weapons.
Idris added, “Also, threat analysis carried out will ensure that tactical intelligence response and technical unit personnel will be deployed in all the six geopolitical zones and state commands before the commencement of the elections. This is anchored on the establishment of standard operations procedure and security arrangements for a secure, free and fair 2019 general elections.”