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C'River: IPC Holds One Day Stakeholder Dialogue On Credible Election

Critical stakeholders in electioneering process have resolved to partner in ensuring a sustainable electoral process that will ensure a free, fair and credible electioneering process in the country.

The resolve was reached at a one day multi stakeholders dialogue on "rebuilding trust in the electoral process, institutions and elections" organised by the International Press Center (IPC) in Calabar.

The executive director of the International Press Center Mr. Lanre Arogundade while speaking on the reason for the dialogue said the 2023 general election though a landmark event that witnessed elaborate advanced planning, oversize budget, elaborate voter education and advancement in the use of technology was still robbed with a lot of challenges like violence, logistics drawbacks and technological glitches.

He explained that this setbacks not only affected the outcome of the elections but eroded the confidence of the electorate in the electioneering process.

"Democracy would be the ultimate loser if these concerns are not properly addressed as a matter of strategic imperative of rebuilding trust in the electoral process"
"In examining the trust element in the nations electioneering process, the searchlight must focus not just on INEC but on as many critical actors in the electioneering process hence the reason for the multi stakeholder dialogue" he said.

Presenting a keynote paper titled "The Role Of A Critical Stakeholder In Fashioning A Way Forward, The director of the center for general studies, University of Calabar Prof. Takon Ojua Asu described electoral process as a fundamental aspect of democratic governance which allow citizens to participate in choosing their leaders and shaping their governments.

He said that public and corporate interest in the electoral process has reduced due to certain activities that take place during elections like logistical fraud, technological integration, judicial interventions, voter education and participation, Electoral fraud and violence.

He pointed out that to tackle this issues, all stakeholders including Political parties, INEC, Candidates, The Judiciary, Civil Societies, Traditional Institutions, Educational Institutions, International Organisations/Observers, The Media, Voters and Security agencies must commit to the course of building a credible electoral process.

In separate responses, stakeholders at the event recount the experience in past elections noting that if the nation must get it right in coming elections then all hands must be on deck.

The chief technical adviser to the Chairman Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof. Bolanle Eyinla said Elections is the ability to elect those we trust into public office and and to achieve this, the need for free and credible elections cannot be overemphasised.

He lamented that though the bulk stops on the table of the Electoral Commission, we all are partners to the outcome of the election whether credible or not.

On his part, the state chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) Mr. Effiom Edet said the issue of electoral misconduct begins  from the individuals to the political parties before the larger stakeholders. According to him, the political parties who are the bedrock of a credible electioneering process fail on their own part as their own internal party elections cannot be said to be credible adding that until internal democracy is being instituted in the political parties, we can't get it right.

The chairman of the dialogue Hon. Itam Abang while addressing the stakeholders identified trust as the cornerstone of any thriving democracy maintained that it is the bedrock upon which the Nigerian electoral systems stands, ensuring that the will of the people is freely and fairly expressed.

"As custodians of democracy it is imperative we ensure that this trust is unwavering.

"The trust in our electoral Systems and institutions have been and it's still being tested. Therefore, we must acknowledge these challenges, address the concerns and work together to restore and strengthen this trust.

"You must bring to the table diverse perspectives, expertise and inputs and with your active participation, collaboration and engagement we can identify gaps, recommend reforms and implement measures to enhance transparency, accountability and inclusivity while charting a way forward in our electoral process.

"Together we can build a robust and trusted electoral framework that upholds the tenets of democracy, protecting the rights of every citizen and ensuring a level playing ground for all" she charged.

Missang Akpet, Beagle News