The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) says it is collaborating with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct free, fair and credible elections in 2023.
Matthew Alao, UNDP Team Lead, Governance, Peace and Security, disclosed this at the opening of a two-day training organised by the UN body in Port Harcourt on Friday.
Alao said that UNDP collaborated with INEC’s Election Monitoring Support Centre (EMSC) to train its Head of Departments (HODs) in South South and South East for successful conduct of the elections.
According to him, the successful conduct of the elections would help deepen democracy and enable the country to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goal 16.
“UNDP will continue to assist INEC to achieve and sustain inclusive, transparent and credible electoral processes for peaceful and cohesive societies.
“This workshop intends to strengthen the capacity of INEC’s EMSC to ensure efficient planning, implementation and management of elections.
“Also, the training will help to strengthen the capacities of officers to counter disinformation, reinforce assurance and credibility in the election procedures.
“This is the main crux of UNDP’s partnership with INEC,” he said.
Alao said that Nigeria must continue to strive to develop its election processes so that every key political stakeholder and the general voting public would trust the election outcomes.
“The current management of INEC has continued to build on the foundation laid by the commission over a decade ago, thereby improving public trust and confidence in the electoral processes.
“The performance of INEC in recent elections has been acknowledged by citizens and the international community. However, there is room for improvement.
“Election processes must continue to be conducted in a manner that electorates will believe that their votes will count; and that the election umpire is impartial,” he added.
Prof. Mohammed Kuna, Special Adviser to Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said the EMSC was used by INEC to plan, monitor, track and implement election activities across the country.
He said the EMSC had five key components that enabled the commission to plan election activities; monitor election activities while the third component, helped implement the election plans.
“The fourth component is that it provides early warning by helping INEC to identify internal and external threats to the election.
“The fifth element helps the centre to provide support to field officers and their activities especially when officers are in distress while carrying out their duty.
“So, the EMSC has helped tremendously in our monitoring of election activities by providing INEC with real time visibility of the electoral process in the field,” he said.
Kuna said that similar training had been carried out for INEC’s HODs in Akure for South West; Kano for North West and Gombe for North East.
On her part, Prof. Rhoda Gumus, INEC Commissioner in charge of Planning, Monitoring and Strategic Planning Committee (PMSC), gave assurance that the commission would conduct free and fair elections in 2023
She said the introduction of BVAS meant that collation and transmission of election results would be seamless and transparent.
According to her, the concluded elections in Osun and Ekiti States was testament to the integrity of the BVAS to collate results in a transparent, credible and fair manner.
“So, we expect that all political parties, stakeholders will comply with the electoral laws before, during and after the elections,” he advised.