A coalition of over 400 civil society organisations under the aegis of Transition Monitoring Group, has called on Nigerians to be vigilant during the 2019 general elections to avoid rigging and other forms of electoral irregularities.
The organisation also supported plans by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to monitor the source of funds for campaigns by political parties and thwart the influence of illicit campaign monies in the electoral process.
The TMG expressed these feelings in a statement by its Chairperson, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, in reaction to the confession by a former Senate President, Ibrahim Mantu, how he rigged election for the Peoples Democratic Party in the past.
“As we wait for Senator Mantu and his co-travelers in the business of rigging elections to discharge their moral burden, we call on all stakeholders to be vigilant as the 2019 electoral process shapes up. TMG makes no mistake about the fact that there are still vestiges of die-hard election riggers, who unlike Senator Mantu, may just not be ready to confess their infractions on the laws of the land.
“It is the vigilance of the electorates and critical stakeholders that would prevent any plans to subvert and undermine the vote of the people. It is clear to us that the only way to prevent rigging is for all stakeholders to keep an eye of the entire electoral cycle, in order to protect its credibility.
“Monitoring campaign financing is critical in this respect; TMG stands in support with INEC, as it moves towards putting in place innovative approaches to track and thwart the influence of illicit campaign monies in the electoral process.
“He also has a patriotic duty to name all INEC staff, and members of the security agencies who participated in the various schemes aimed at subverting the vote of the people. While some may argue that those issues are in the past now, proper repentance and restitution implies that all those involved have to account for their actions.”
While calling on civil society organisations to build synergies, share information and massively engage the electoral process, with a view to deterring desperate political actors who may want to compromise the elections, the TMG said, the confession of Senator Mantu, “amounts to a call to duty, which we must heed to ensure the 2019 elections are free, fair and credible.”
Akiyode-Afolabi said Mantu’s confessions deserve a deeper scrutiny from the authorities, if Nigerians were to get a sense of closure from the terrible events of the recent years, when politicians subverted the democratic choices and aspirations of Nigerians by corrupting the electoral process.
According to her, Mantu’s confession goes to the heart of the problem of morally bankrupt political leadership, which has been the cog of Nigeria’s nation building, since the return of democracy in 1999.
The TMG said, “Although we have always known that the political elite would do anything possible to undermine the electoral process, yet the stark reality of a legislator, who effectively was the nation’s number two lawmaker at some point, owning up to shady schemes to undermine the credibility of the electoral process, takes the perfidy of Nigeria’s political elite, several notches higher.
“The last time we checked, using bribes to tamper with the electoral process and all actions undermining the vote of the people, are crimes punishable by the extant laws of the land. Sections 124 and 130 of the Electoral Act 2010, as amended make it punishable offences for anyone to pay or receive bribes to influence the outcome of elections.
“These clear provisions of the law must be invoked in addressing specific cases like these. We also call on Senator Mantu to follow up his ‘altruistic’ confessions by going further to provide specifics of particular elections, which he and his co-travelers at the time used bribes to undermine.”