Yiaga Africa Calls for Credible, Transparent Elections in Plateau

Yiaga Africa has called for credible and transparent local government elections in Plateau State, emphasizing the importance of punctuality, integrity, and independence in the electoral process. The organization urged the State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC) to ensure that the election results truly reflect the will of the people and remain free from political interference.

Speaking during a consultative meeting with the Plateau State Independent Electoral Commission (PLASIEC), Mr.Samson Itodo, Executive Director of Yiaga Africa, emphasized the need for the electoral body to meet voter expectations and uphold democratic principles.

He stated “Voters expect election officials to be present at polling units early on election day to enable them to cast their votes, the results of the election must reflect the actual votes cast, ensuring that the outcome represents the will and aspirations of the people of Plateau.”

Itodo stressed that the commission must maintain its independence and resist any attempts by political actors to interfere with the electoral process and outlined three critical tests for the commission: integrity, competency, and resilience. “The commission must ensure that local government elections meet high standards of integrity,all officials managing the elections need to have the requisite capacity and competence, and the commission must withstand the challenges of conducting local elections, including security, economic, and political challenges.” He said.

Highlighting Yiaga Africa’s commitment, Itodo said, “As a civil society organization, Yiaga Africa will continue to support electoral commissions in Nigeria and across Africa. Our collaboration includes legal reviews to ensure electoral laws are consistent with the 2022 Electoral Act and initiatives to increase public interest and voter turnout in local government elections.”

Addressing calls for the abolition of State Independent Electoral Commissions (SIECs), he argued against it, citing three main reasons: “It is flawed to argue for the abolition of SIECs due to the trend of conducting coronations instead of elections. Safeguarding the operational and financial independence of SIECs through legal means is crucial. “Secondly, INEC has stated that it is overburdened with responsibilities. Adding the task of conducting local council elections would exacerbate this. Finally, advocating for local government autonomy while calling for centralization is contradictory. Strengthening SIECs is essential for true local democracy.” He emphasized

In his remarks, Professor Nnamdi Aduba, a board member of Yiaga Africa, reiterated the importance of empowered state electoral commissions for genuine local democracy. He stated, “Federalism should be tailored to the specific history of a country. We are moving towards federalism, which entails decentralization.” Aduba stressed the need for local involvement in elections and urged the commission to set a high standard.

Also, PLASIEC Chairman, Mr. Plangji Cishak, reassured of the commission’s dedication to transparency and credibility, highlighting efforts to improve processes and meet global standards. “One of the first signs of integrity is openness to scrutiny. We have not closed our doors to interventions or the media. The lives and destinies of close to six million people are our responsibility. We aim to set a standard for other independent commissions to follow.”Cishak stated.

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