Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, Director, Voter Education and Publicity, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has admitted human interference in the process of elections in Nigeria, at the 11th Wole Soyinka Centre Media Lecture Series, held on Saturday, 13 July 2019 at MUSON Centre, Onikan, Lagos. He called for a rethink of the process.
Osaze-Uzzi, who contributed as a panellist to the theme of the lecture – “Rethinking Credible Elections, Accountable Democracy and Good Governance in Nigeria”, acknowledges that there are serious issues in the electoral process, including in the voters’ registration and registration of political parties.
“Election is a process and we must look at all the things involved in that process. We will start with voters’ registration, registration of political parties … there are serious issues dealing with all these things that we must look at. There have been so much human interferences in the process such as are destructive,” he said.
Osaze-Uzzi noted that the INEC has brought in technology into the electoral process to minimise human interference in the process, especially at the registration and accreditation stages.
He said, “We now have an EU register. It might not be perfect, but it is better than anything we ever had, and it is the best collection of data for Nigerians. More than 84 million Nigerians have their data in that database. We also have technology for accreditation.
“The more human interferences we have in the process, the more likelihood that things would be skewed one way or the other, but do not be deceived, technology is not a cure for everything. Technology can also be extremely expensive. With technology also, you have to look at your infrastructure to support that technology.”
Reacting to public notion that INEC should sanction election offenders, he observed that the commission does not have power to sanction people guilty of election malpractices.
“INEC cannot stop any candidate and cannot stop any party from doing the wrong thing. Campaigns are supposed to start 90 days to the election, but six months to the election, you see posters by people campaigning. It is outlawed by the constitution which says that there should be no campaign by any association other than the political parties, but there are no sanctions because INEC cannot sanction them,” he said.
He further observed the need to make elections more cost effective. He said, “In Zamfara, we had to print two sets of ballot papers. Is the APC going to be part of it or not? Because there were two different court orders. Which one do we obey? It took the supreme court to finally nail that. In Rivers State, the same thing. That is whole states not to talk of individual constituencies. As we speak there are so many people that we have given certificates too that haven’t won the elections that the court have upturned the decisions that they were not the right candidates.”