TMG will Ensure Electoral Transparency and Accountability- Rafsanjani
It is with great pleasure that I welcome you all to this important press conference on the state of our electoral process in Nigeria and TMG’s agenda for the next four years.
I would like to thank our friends, well-wishers and electoral stakeholders and assure you on behalf of the Board and the teeming members of TMG that we will do our best to advocate for electoral transparency and accountability by mobilizing Nigerians to demand positive change in our electoral process. Your appreciation of TMG and what it represents in Nigeria is an attestation of the confidence you have in its leadership and the trust you have for us as a flagship organization in the electoral system.
In the press release that preceded our election, we promised to build on the gains of the outgoing leadership and acknowledged the need for fundamental reforms within the group.
Nigerians are increasingly losing confidence in our electoral system which is full of All forms of malpractice, manipulation, violence, commercialization and privatization of political parties and political offices for self-centred interest.
To start with, the Board will lead TMG strategically to redefine its purpose, goals, and competitive position to enable it to identify where and how it can best and most effectively contribute to the development of democracy in Nigeria.
We pledge to lead the TMG in an internal re-engineering process to restructure its operational organs to enhance its ability to perform its functions with greater effectiveness and efficiency.
Distinguished colleagues, it is my pleasure to inform you that this leadership will run an all-inclusive organization, rebuilding partnerships with citizens, donor partners and civil society organizations, re-establishing the organization in its core areas of work – election observation, civic education and promotion of democracy in an accountable and transparent manner devoid of corrupt tendencies.
The new leadership will resuscitate the TMG Newsletter, ‘Democracy Watch’ to maintain constant communication with the members on the activities of the group. We are committed to upholding the already established goodwill and sustained relationship the group enjoys with the media. We can not but praise the effort of our predecessors for the good work they did to keep the organization relevant. This new approach will certainly revolutionize the process of election observation in Nigeria and will no doubt lead to the building of integrity and legitimacy of the entire electoral process, particularly elections and their outcome.
However, I must say that with all the confidence reposed on us by the members who voted us into office, we must know that it is equally a test of our credibility and integrity to prove to the entire world that we can do it, and do it correctly with utmost dedication, commitment, transparency, and honesty of purpose.
Like I stated in my acceptance speech, the new TMG Board is setting a precedence of conducting operations of TMG in an orderly and systematic way to accord every structure of TMG its due right and respect.
TMG AGENDA FOUR THE NEXT FOUR YEARS
An Agenda Setting for Electoral Transparency
The Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) is the foremost independent civil society election observation organization in Nigeria. Established in 1998 as a non-profit organization, TMG seeks to secure the highest standards in the administration of elections in Nigeria by ensuring that the election management body and the electorates carry out their responsibilities during elections under the Law and with internationally recognized standards for free and fair elections. It also seeks to ensure that good governance is entrenched in Nigeria through responsible leadership.
You will recall that on Thursday, 26th August 2021, the TMG during its Annual General Meeting (AGM) elected a new Board to steer the affairs of the flagship election Observation organization in the country. As we commend the good work of the last Board of the TMG and its numerous achievements which we are committed to improving upon for the growth of Nigeria’s democracy, the new leadership hereby states its key action areas for electoral improvement in Nigeria.
1. TMG’s Paradigm Shift
TMG is determined to redefine its values and identity to complement the existing work of other groups working on elections by focusing more on observing how election delivers good governance. We will make a deliberate effort and intervention towards ensuring that the electoral process delivers dividends of democracy and sustainable development to the people which is lacking in Nigeria.
2. Advocacy to Reform and Institutionalize Internal Democracy in Nigeria’s Political Parties
TMG recognizes that Nigeria practices a party democracy, hence, political parties are the vehicle for political emergence in Nigeria and places importance on the quality of internal democracy within the political parties as they are the platforms upon which leaderships from the grassroots to the national level would emerge. Because of this, TMG frowns at the current state of political parties in Nigeria with the lingering crisis suggesting an apparent lack of internal democracy, privatization and commercialization of political parties where godfatherism holds absolute control of party structure. In ensuring intraparty accountability, TMG will be Observing party conventions as part of our commitment to provide technical support to intraparty reforms and entrenchment of internal democracy.
3. Engage in Massive Voters’ Education
As observed from the 2019 General Election, many Nigerians are still not well informed about the electoral processes in Nigeria. The leadership of TMG prioritizes extensive voters’ education to ensure Nigerians understand electoral processes as well as their rights and consequences of succumbing to political manipulations from politicians and their agents. TMG will devote its time to educating Nigerians against manipulative practices such as vote-buying.
4. Continuous Voters’ Registration
TMG will mobilize extensively to campaign for mass participation of Nigerians in the ongoing Continuous Voters’ Registration exercise. Through the instrumentality of our large constituents across the country, we will work closely with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to mobilize eligible Nigerians who are not on the voters’ register to register and vote in elections in Nigeria. The new leadership of TMG will also intensify efforts on election observation in the country. We will mobilize our members to observe every aspect of the electoral process from the polling units to the wards, up to the National level.
5. Engage in Observing Conducts of Security Personnel, Politicians and Political Parties during Elections
TMG has observed wide reports of misconducts by security personnel, politicians and political parties during elections in Nigeria and will observe closely and report accordingly the activities of these set of stakeholders to ensure compliance with extant electoral laws and regulations. We will also note with keen attention and report to the appropriate quarters incidence of violence while also paying close attention to cases of discrimination against youth, persons with disabilities, and gender-based electoral violence.
6. Observation of Election Litigations/Tribunals in Nigeria
The regular conduct of elections has increased tremendously in Nigeria since the handover to democratic rule in 1999, and reforms over time have been instrumental in improving the conduct of elections. Increasingly, there is a growing trend in Nigeria for political parties and candidates to mount litigate electoral processes and outcomes in the courts. While in some respects arbitrating electoral disputes through litigation and resort to the rule of law is a step in the right direction, there are concerns about the adverse effects of litigation on the electoral processes and outcomes, especially in the context of nascent democracies associated with weak governance institutions, including the judiciary. The case of Imo and Bayelsa states and other similar ones of upturned election outcome through an adjudication process after the 2019 general elections have presented lessons for political parties on the need to adhere to rule of law, an accountable and transparent intra-party process that will at the long-run present credible candidates for election.
TMG regards the Electoral Tribunals as key stakeholders in Pre and Post-election matters and will be observing court cases to ensure that Nigerians are aware of the outcomes of proceedings in the court and that the rule of law is maintained.
STATE OF THE NATION
In the aftermath of the unacceptable attack on the Nigeria Defence Academy, the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) is compelled to react to several unsavoury developments in the polity. We expect that government would nip the security issue in the bud and tow an acceptable and less divisive path of bringing a lasting end to the security challenges that presently bedevil the country. We, however, note with concern that the Federal Government and military have been treating the issue of our national security with levity while all geopolitical zones continue to bleed in a manner that portends grave danger to our hard-earned democracy.
The electoral processes have had their share of violence with the secessionist movement calling for a boycott of the election with threats to disrupt the poll, thugs razing down electoral management offices, killing of security personnel, burning of police stations and kidnapping of electoral officials. There is a pervasive atmosphere of uncertainty as to when the government will address the cases of banditry and kidnapping that have engulfed the country and also tackle the problem associated with criminal herdsman. TMG calls on the government to urgently address our multifaceted security challenge before the conduct of the 2023 election to prevent voter apathy that may arise due to the inability of voters to travel to conduct their civic rights, the safety of electoral materials and electoral officials and the credibility of the electoral result.
Corruption in Nigeria’s electoral processes is showing no signs of leaving soon as politicians continue to flaunt unaccounted campaign spendings and party financing by using illegitimate funds as the sole means of winning voters over. INEC and other relevant agencies need to tackle the menace to allow voters to form a more objective opinion of the people they are to vote for.
Since 1999, credible local government elections in Nigeria have been illusory, the processes and outcome of the LGA election have remained the will of the state and ruling party rather than reflecting the consent and aspirations of the people as electorates. The political interference from the state government and partisanship of the state independent electoral commission has lead to a lack of trust in local elections and the increasing case of voter apathy with inconsistency in the application of electoral guidelines and poor communication channels between state electoral commission and electoral stakeholders.
TMG sees this as rape of rural governance that potent grave danger for participatory democracy, accountability and rural development. We call on the Nigeria governor’s forum, political parties and relevant stakeholders to join voices in ensuring that credible LGA elections are prioritized and conducted as at when due and reforms should be put in place for local institutional strengthening and framework for local government development. It is also of great concern that the autonomy of states judiciary and houses of assembly are yet to take effect. This has continued to fuel disregard for the rule of law and court orders. Without the autonomy, separation of powers and checks and balances in Nigeria will remain only on paper as the executive continues to technically wield the powers of the other two arms of government.
TMG condemns the ongoing attempts to use agencies that are paid from the taxpayer’s funds of Nigerians to intimidate the citizenry. The barbaric use of security forces to intimidate fellow citizens is unacceptable. We, therefore, call on the government to immediately bring to a halt the ongoing intimidation of citizens who are expressing their fundamental rights of opinion on national issues across the country. We make bold to say that the government is further eroding its legitimacy as long as it continues to use the military and other security agencies to intimidate and harass fellow Nigerians. This brazen infringement on the fundamental rights and civil liberties of Nigerians is a recipe for chaos and anarchy.
This is an unfortunate return to those despicable days of the military when the goons of state were used to attempt a rollback of civil liberties and freedom. Thankfully, the forces of history were on the side of the Nigerian people. The heroic sacrifices of courageous Nigerians ensured that the military was chased out of the political space to the barracks, where they rightfully belong under full civilian control. The result is the current democracy that Nigerians enjoy today, despite all its many flaws.
In conclusion, I urge you all, particularly the media to take a deep study of the political environment, understand and suggest areas you feel needs further engagements by the TMG so that we can all move into the field to succeed.
Once again, I thank every one of you for taking out time from your busy schedules to participate in this retreat.
Auwal Musa Rafsanjani
Kidnapped School ChildrenYauri FGC Students, Kebbi
93 days 20 hours 53 minutes 37 seconds,
Baptist School Students, Kaduna
75 days 22 hours 35 minutes 2 seconds
Report By: PRNigeria.com