Dedicated to Nigeria's socio-political issues
October 3, 2007 - December 2, 2007
How To Improve Nigeriaís Electoral System
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
1. ELECTORAL PROCESS
The 1999 Constitution of the Republic contains the commitment to hold free and fair democratic elections every four years. The Constitution entrusts the conduct of all aspects of the electoral process (with the exception of local government council elections) to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC) of each State is charged with the conduct of local elections using the register of voters compiled by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
The Independent National Electoral Commission is one of the Federal Executive
Bodies established by the Constitution in Sections 153 to 161. The State
Independent Electoral Commissions are similarly established in Sections 197 to
205 of the Constitution.
The arrangements pose a great load on the Commission. Besides, with all elective offices of the entire federation falling vacant every four years, the few months covering the nomination process, the campaigns and the polls are particularly a tense period in the country. During the campaign period, the various legislative houses are effectively shut down since most, if not all parliamentarians may be seeking re-election.
A constitutional arrangement which allows the parliamentary elections and the elections into the executive offices to be held in different years, say a year or two years apart should be considered.
INDEPENDENCE OF THE ELECTORAL PROCESS
Adequate and timely funding is the oil which lubricates this machinery for
efficient and effective performance.
Appointment of National Commissioners:
Among the suggestions that have been made is one that advocates membership drawn from all the political parties. Most of the Commissionís tasks are of an executive and administrative nature in which quick and precise decisions are needed. A Commission composed of members drawn from different partisan interests is unlikely to be timely in its decision taking. A Commission whose membership is large even if of not divergent interests may also be very slow in its decision taking.
Resident Electoral Commissioners:
Secretary to the Commission
Funding of the Commission:
Section 84(4) of the Constitution provides for the payment of the salaries
and allowances of the Commissionís members from the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
The same provision ought to be made for the operating and development funds of
Ad Hoc Staff/Security Personnel:
The use of several hundreds of thousands of ad hoc staff and security personnel over whom the Commission has no disciplinary control poses severe handicaps for it. Their recruitment and deployment by the Commission ought to be formalised with the various governmental authorities. The various governments and the security agencies should make available to the Commission, such numbers of persons that the Commission requires. The persons made available should be deemed to be on normal duties while on posting to the Commission. There should be legal provisions which empower the Commission to recommend disciplinary action on any erring ad hoc staff and security personnel to their employers and for such employers to implement the disciplinary action within a specified period. Measures such as this may instil a greater sense of commitment and of fears to this category of poll day workers.
Intervention of the Regular Courts
- nomination of candidates;
It is at the end of the counting phase that a clear picture emerges as to who is the winner of the election. The regular courts now seem to have powers to entertain disputes which arise at the nomination phase. Such intervention by the regular courts is in violation of Section 285 of the Constitution. Besides, the intervention constitutes a severe distraction on the planning and implementation tasks of the Commission during the most critical period of its preparation for elections.
The intervention of the regular courts should cease the moment the election timetable is released by the Commission. All disputes about the election starting with the nomination phase, the conduct of polls through to the counting of votes and declaration of results should be matters of post-election adjudication.
DETERMINATION OF ELECTION DISPUTES
A solution to this may be with an extension of the time for election into these offices. Rather than the 60 days specified in the Constitution (see S.76(2) of the 1999 Constitution for each House of the National Assembly for example), the period should be extended to at least 90 days before and not later than the date the House stands dissolved for legislative houses. For the Presidency and Governorship, the elections to be held at least 90 days before and not later than 60 days before the expiration of the term of office of the last holder of such office for the President and Governor.
Furthermore, all election disputes should be determined within a specified period (60 days is recommended) of the declaration of result and return of the winner and certainly before the swearing in of the winner of the election. This way, there is more certainty as to the holder of the office and such a person will not be distracted from the performance of his duties
2. POLITICAL PARTIES
It is a fair statement to make that all thirty political parties in Nigeria are still in their early stages of development and growth. The oldest three are less than seven years old and have only taken part in two general elections. The other twenty-seven parties were registered in 2002 and twenty-four of these received their registration in December 2002, less than five months to the April 2003 general elections. Though many of them have problems of internal disputes, and divisions, it can be expected that these will abate with the passage of time. Each should be allowed time to develop at its own pace.
Code of Conduct:
Being Independent National Electoral Commission Electoral, (Aide-memoir: Prepared For The National Political Conference)
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This page was last updated on 10/27/07.