By Chibuike Nwabuko
Abuja (Sundiata Post) — The Chairperson of the Transition Monitoring Group, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, has welcomed the recent nomination of Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) as a laudable and necessary step towards putting in place the necessary structures for the 2019 general elections.
The group, however, called for a thorough and transparent screening process to ensure that persons of questionable characters or politically exposed persons do not find their way into the Commission, and undermine the progress the Commission has made in recent times in getting the right personnel for managing elections and its independence.
Akiyode-Afolabi, in a statement issued by Programs Officer, Olusola Babalola, further expressed concern about issues relating to the parameters for nominating persons for such position.
“It is important that nominations are not left at the prerogative of chief executives of states or other considerations, where the allegiance of its beneficiaries are not to a transparent and credible electoral management process but to the biddings of their benefactors,” Akiyode-Afolabi said.
TMG welcomed the nomination of persons with extensive experience in elections engagement, and further reiterated its position on the need to professionalise the management of elections in the country.
The Group said that it is taken aback by the total lack of gender balance in the nominations.
“Only two women nominations, out of the 29 RECs, is a far cry from the required 35 percent affirmative action, pledged in the National Gender Policy towards gender integration in public life in the country. This singular act goes a long way to undermine the progress made so far in engendering women’s participation in electoral processes and democracy,” Akiyode-Afolabi noted.
TMG emphasised that the absence of women on the management and decision making structure of the Commission could have far-reaching implications for the participation of women in future elections as key processes and reforms within the commission might not adequately capture or reflect any considerations for women.
“It is not too late to correct this anomaly,” she added.
She called on the Presidency to take the necessary steps to immediately address the situation.
“Finally, TMG calls for a timely consideration and conclusion of the much-needed reforms in the constitution and electoral act as regards the conduct of elections as the 2019 general elections approaches.
“This will enable all stakeholders including political parties to internalise the new provisions and prepare adequately for the elections.
“On the part of the Commission, TMG congratulates INEC for early release of the 2019 Elections time table and calls on INEC to continue to engage stakeholders and the citizens, as we look forward to an election that responds to the aspirations of Nigerians in the determination of their democratic choices,” she concluded.