The Socio-Economic Research and Development Centre (SERDEC) calls for Local Government Election Reform, says current election template exposes SIEC to partisanship.
The Executive Director, SERDEC, Abdulkareem Tijani made the request in his preliminary report of the just concluded Kogi State Local Government Election.
Below is the full text of SERDEC report.
SERDEC Preliminary Statement on the December 12, 2020 Kogi State Local Government Election
On Saturday, December 12, 2020, the Socio-Economic Research and Development Centre SERDEC mobilized and deployed citizen observers across the three senatorial zones of Kogi State to observe the Local Government Election. SERDEC team observed the entire Election Day process and called and sent messages to the WhatsApp tool – Information Center to report their observation findings at the end of the exercise.
Summary of Findings
Based on our observer reports across the 21 LGAs, SERDEC finds that the Election Day process commenced late in majority of the polling units visited, majority of the polling unit within the ration of 1 to 20 had no presence of electoral materials and personnel by SIEC except for security personnel in all the polling units visited. Largely, there was no reported incidence of violence, intimidation and harassment.
Set-up and Opening of Polling Units:
SERDEC observers arrived as early as 7:30am across all the polling units they were deployed to observe. As at 12:00am electoral materials and KOSIEC personnel were yet to arrive across most of the observed polling units, except in few places. Party agents were also seen in all of the observed polling units. However, many among the contesting Political Parties were unable to deploy Agents to several Polling Units.
Accreditation and voting:
SERDEC observers did not witness any accreditation and voting process within Lokoja, Ankpa and Ijumu LGAs. However surprisingly voting and result were declared at the local government secretariats.
Counting of Votes / Declaration of Results:
The supposed results for the LGA election were not visible to voters across the ward as election did not hold in most of wards across the state.
Critical incidents are high level electoral irregularities, whether intentional or inadvertent, that could undermine the integrity of local government election in Nigeria. The most frequently reported incidents are voter apathy and non-arrival of electoral materials at majority of the polling units across the ward level.
Recommendations and Conclusions:
The conduct of elections provides the opportunity to draw lessons with the aim of improving future ones. At SERDEC, we recognize that no electoral process can be perfect, especially at the local level. However, as a growing democratic society, we should seek to make the conduct of our elections better than the previous ones.
It is important that as we seek to improve upon our electoral process at the local level, there should be improved communication between SIEC and other election stakeholders to enhance efficiency. We wish to call for a more effective synergy between SIEC and Security agencies. We call on all stakeholders to draw lessons from the just concluded LGA polls to demand for effective local government autonomy and independence of State Election Management Bodies (EMB).
SERDEC makes the following recommendations:
- The State Independent Electoral Commissions need to be freed from the control of state governments or allow the National INEC to conduct the LGA Election. The current arrangement exposes SIECs to partisanship which runs afoul of the international standard of conducting free and fair elections by any EMB.
- Local government councils should be made independent. Section 7 (1) of the 1999 Constitution that gives legal impetus to local government system as a tier of government in Nigeria places local government councils under the control of state government. Just as powers are shared between state governments and federal government, the same should apply to local government councils.
- Until proper measures are adopted, local council elections will continue to be a mirage and consequently, the impunity with which financial resources are frittered away by corrupt politicians will continue to affect the quality of governance and service delivery in local communities.
- SERDEC seize this opportunity to stress the need for further electoral reform especially the need for creation of Electoral Offences Commission as a way to tackle the impunity that have bedeviled the conduct of local government elections in Nigeria.
SERDEC commends the security personnel for the professional conduct and steadfastness as it continues to ensure security of the polls and outcomes.
SERDEC calls for calm and urge parties, candidates and their supporters who may have misgivings or wishes to challenge the outcome of the election to seek redress through appropriate channels and not to take laws into their hands.