The imperative of citizen’s engagement
By Richard Mammah
Soon, the build-up for the 2019 elections will be intensified with gladiators on political party platforms strutting around the nooks and crannies of the nation.
Given our experience till date, and particularly since the restoration of democracy in 1999, there are very critical issues that need to be addressed if the results would be better than what we have had in the past and continue to have and live with today.
Central to all of this is the imperative of enthroning the centrality of the citizen as the purpose for governance with every step being taken to truly restore power to the people.
In this, the place to begin is in the arena of Continuous Voter Registration, CVR.
Presently, the 1999 Constitution (as amended) already stipulates that the Independent National Electoral Commission make arrangements for all Nigerians of 18 years and above to be registered as voters. The Electoral Act 2010 adds meat to this when it tasks the same INEC with the responsibility of organising a Continuous Voters Registration exercise to help ensure that no one is left out.
Now, 23 months to the next election, this is not being done. We cannot continue to do the wrong thing and expect right results! As the House of Representatives recently indicated, the non-enforcement of the CVR process has dire implications for the integrity of the resultant vote.
The party that I will be voting for in 2019 therefore will be one that resolutely commits itself even from now to ensuring that everyone of 18 years and above, not only gets a voters card, but that their votes will definitely count.
Related to these would be the issues of expanding the technological base of the vote counting process through the strengthening of the use of card readers, biometric registration, e-voting, and other tools, as well as enabling the diaspora vote.
Next will be the issue of the articulated programme and manifesto of the party. It must be thorough and robust. I am curious on many of the things it should address but two will be most important. One, its programme for education and the youth and then its pan-Africanist and foreign affairs goals for the nation.
Then, we address the issue of the track records, qualifications, dispositions and noted past of the individual contenders running for different offices as well as the front-row membership of the respective parties. We really must do a better job this time around.
To be continued
Professor Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission