Labour stakeholders discuss way forward to free, fair, credible elections

Stakeholders in the labour sector have come together at a one-day workshop to recommend the way forward to free, fair, and credible 2023 presidential and governorship elections.

The workshop, held on Tuesday in Lagos, was organised by the Labour Writers Association of Nigeria (LAWAN) in collaboration with Friedrich Erbert Stiftung (FES) Foundation.

It had as its theme, ‘’Beyond Voting: Roles of Citizens in Ensuring a Free, Fair, and Transparent 2023 Election.”

The Director-General, Michael Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies, Ilorin, Mr Issa Aremu, said that the country was doing well in terms of democracy, but needed quality control.

Aremu said, ’’Quality control means that issues must be on the agenda, candidates must be interrogated on what they stand for, not based on their religion, where they come from.

“We must decide; there must be election, and the date is getting closer; we are going to have presidential election Feb. 25; we have a choice to choose.”

He said that both the current crisis of naira redesigning, as well as the protracted fuel crisis were fallout or consequences of insufficiency of democracy.

He, therefore, called for the democratisation of corporate governance of public institutions including CBN, as well as Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation.

‘’It is time for us to deepen democratic oversight of CBN in spite of its Act that says it is independent.”

Aremu said that the naira crisis, shortage of currencies, would have avoided if there was more consultation, noting that less of participation means less of democracy.

Also, the President, Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance, and Financial Institutions (ASSBIFI), Mr Olusoji Oluwole, said that the responsibility for the success of the 2023 election was in the hands of the citizens.

He said, however, that several challenges were facing the country currently, including the cash crunch and fuel scarcity, ahead of the polls.

‘’We have a lot of Nigerians, who for their own personal reasons are registered in their home state, communities; there are people, who because of the nature of their jobs, are located outside their own residences and need to travel.

‘’We have information that schools have been ordered to close for the period of the elections.

‘’Now, the challenge that we face is the ability of those people to go to those locations to exercise their civic responsibility because they do not have the ability to pay their way through to those places.

‘’We still hoping that there could be some kind of succour,” Oluwole said.

Also, the Chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Lagos Chapter, Mrs Funmi Sessi, said the NLC had refrained from adding to the situation that Nigerians were passing through in recent times.

Sessi said, ‘’NLC has refrained from adding to the situation that Nigerians are passing through  currently because we do not want government, or individuals or group of people to put blame at the doorstep of NLC.

‘’We know that these are hard times for Nigerians, but it is just a phase; it will pass away.

‘’Let us keep faith with our Permanent Voter Cards; with the date, Feb, 25, when we should have free, fair, and credible elections.”

In her remarks, an official of FES foundation, Mrs Remi Ihejirika, said that Nigeria could not be truly democratic without its citizens having the opportunity to choose their representatives through elections that were judged to be free and fair.

Ihejirika is the Project Manager, ‘’Road to 2023: Labour and Media in Elections’’.

‘’Also, that is the essence of this project; how do we ensure that elections are free and fair, people continue to have confidence in the electoral process?

‘’At this meeting today, it is like an assessment of the preparedness of all stakeholders to the forthcoming elections: how prepared are Independent National Electoral Commission and citizens to participate in the process,” she said.

Also, the LAWAN Chairman, Mr Toba Agboola, said that the workshop, which was built on the first, held in 2022, was expected to capture progress achieved so far and challenges that needed to be addressed.

‘Agboola said, ‘’The purpose of this workshop is also to assess the current political and electoral environment in the lead-up to the presidential and governorship elections.

‘’It is also expected to assess preparations and offer recommendations to enhance citizen confidence in the process and violence-free election.”


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