Correct anomalies in LG elections with FCT council poll, TMG urges INEC
Joshua Omoloye, Abuja
The Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)to set a new template in conduct of local government election in the country with the February 12 council election in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Worried by politicisation and manipulation of local government elections by state government, the civil society group, has urged the national election management body to ensure; participatory, inclusive, peaceful, free, fair and credible polls in the (FCT) on Saturday.
The TMG said this is necessary because local governments are a very crucial and integral components of the nation’s democracy.
Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani), Chairman of TMG in a statement Wednesday said “as the third tier of government, it is the closest government to the people and is positioned to affect directly the day-to-day activities of citizens thereby reinforcing the centrality of the councils to the welfare and well-being of Nigerians.
“Disturbingly, council elections have always left much to be desired in the heart of Nigerians. Elections at the local government levels have largely been a charade, with the outcomes leaving electorates and observers perplexed. This much has contributed to a huge level of voters’ apathy in council elections with Nigerians not matching the same enthusiasm of the federal and state elections with the council elections.
“TMG is highly worried about the incessant non-credible council polls in Nigeria and the level of voter apathy demonstrated by the Nigerian electorates across council elections in the country.
“However, TMG is confident that the FCT council elections will represent a sharp departure from the norm and set a standard for subsequent local level elections in Nigeria especially as it is overseen directly by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
“Local government council elections must begin to reflect the yearnings and desires of the majority of the electorates. The FCT being the nation’s capital must also be exemplary in conducting the council elections of our desires. TMG is urging all stakeholders to perform their different functions to ensure a successful election”.
To this end, TMG called on FCT residents in the six area councils to come out enmass to participate in the elections as it is imperative for residents to understand that non-participation in the electoral process through voter apathy gives ample opportunity to those with ulterior motives to hijack the electoral process and thereby imposing unpopular candidates as winners of the elections.
“Citizens must also understand that any form of failure to participate in the voting process by citizens would also represent a direct contribution to poor local council governance as has been seen all over the country.
“Elections are a democratic channel for citizens to choose credible leaders, hence, TMG is reminding the FCT residents of their civic duty to elect credible leaders at the forthcoming area council elections in the FCT. A participatory election does not only produce popular leaders but also gives electorates the powers to hold and demand accountability from elected leaders”, it advocated.
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The body as well charged INEC to ensure modalities are adequately put in place in all the polling units to ensure electoral lapses are not recorded in the pre voting, voting and counting stages of the election.
“While TMG holds confidence on INEC to conduct a free, fair and credible elections, the Commission is also reminded of the peculiarity of the FCT and thereby conduct an election worthy of emulation in subsequent council polls across the country.
“The politicians to play by the rules and play responsibly without undermining the electoral process. TMG is calling on the political class to avoid acts that will sabotage the electoral process and put its credibility to questions. Electoral misconducts such as engagements of thugs to snatch ballot boxes and buying of votes must be avoided.
“TMG urges the Security Agencies to arrest and prosecute saboteurs who are bent on sabotaging the peaceful conducts of the elections. Also, the security officials must conduct themselves in the highest decorum to ensure the trust of the electorates”, added the TMG..