By Patrick Ochei
Stakeholders from the Civil Society Organisations, faith based organisations, media, women groups and different political groups, yesterday Tuesday, 9th August, 2022, tasked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and political parties on credible 2023 elections, including an increased participation of women in political leadership.
This development was a fallout of a one-day stakeholders townhall meeting on the International Coworking Day Celebration, organised by the Stand-Up For Women Society (SWS) in collaboration with the Elona Development Foundation, which held at the conference hall of the Delta State Orientation Bureau in Asaba.
The Keynote address on the theme of the Day “Credible Elections, Democratic Stability and Women’s Role” was delivered by the Director General of the State Orientation Bureau, Eugene Azuka Uzum Esq., who dwelt extensively on the challenges of the electoral processes and INEC improvement as fallout of the Anambra, Ekiti and Osun States’ elections.
Meanwhile, goodwill messages were given by INEC REC represented by the Director of Voter Education, Mr. Bukola Ojeme, the Chairman of the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Comrade Sonia Unobunjo and other critical stakeholders who highlighted the major impediments before, during and after elections, while calling on political parties to allow for greater women participation in political leadership.
At the onset, the Chairperson of Stand-Up For Women Society, Delta State Chapter, Comrade Mrs. Stella Macaulay had said that the International Coworking Day which holds every August 9, provides the platform to create awareness on what needs to be done by critical stakeholders in advancing the course of society.
She had revealed that the stakeholders were gathered to interrogate the contributions of various segments of the society, aimed at achieving the Goal 17 of the Sustainable Development Goal, SDG.
The cerebral Macaulay however, called for collaboration to incubate ideas that would engage productive leadership and transparent electoral system going forward.
In addition, the SWS Chairperson commended INEC for the transformation that had taken place in its guidelines and operations, orchestrated by the introduction of the BVAS machine into the electoral system, while equally tasking them on sustaining the credibility of the electoral system for the overall benefit of the Nigerian people.
Other guest speakers also presented their papers and in the end, a 9-point communique was issued from various deliberations by the stakeholders.
First was that, for electoral credibility in the next elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission should endeavour to make adequate logistics available for the 2023 elections.
Secondly is that, necessary Voter Education should be carried out in respect of the Biometrics Verification System.
Thirdly, that every effort should be made towards making the 2023 election to be the freest and most credible election ever conducted in the country.
Fourthly, that election violence, thuggery, vote buying and other electoral malpractices should not be condoned by the electoral umpire and various security agencies.
Fifth, that youths and women should make every effort to be active participants in the next election.
Sixth, that the forum frowns at the high cost of conducting elections in the country and called for drastic measures to cut down the huge budgetary allocations.
Seventh, that for the sustainability of the democratic process and the enthronement of true federalism and good governance, the electoral umpire should strive to be seen as unbiased.
Eighth, that in line with the resolution of the Beijing Conference of 1995, 35% of all elective positions should be reserved for women at all levels of government.
Ninth, and concluding is that, the stakeholders forum congratulated the organisers for the high level of success recorded during the meeting and also for the huge turnout of invitees.