The outcome of the Commission’s Retreat “must have a real effect in the way we strengthen our electoral processes to achieve four cardinal principles of TRANSPARENCY, INTEGRITY, CREDIBILITY and IMPARTIALITY”.
The INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, stated this yesterday in a welcome address at the Commission’s Strategic Retreat at the Intercontinental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos.
He emphasised that the conduct of the democratic election was ultimately based on trust of the umpire and the transparency of the processes leading to an outcome that was credible.
The INEC Chairman explained that the main purpose of the retreat was to reflect on the constitutionally and legally defined responsibilities thus far and appraise successes and challenges and how INEC could strengthen the processes leading to the 2019 General Elections and beyond.
He further explained that the Retreat was designed to achieve introspection and projection and to review the Strategic Plan towards the development of a new plan that would take the Commission to 2019 and beyond.
The INEC Chairman identified practical yardsticks by which the Commission could be judged by Nigerians. They are:
Expected actions prior to elections such as inclusive and continuously updated Voter Register, availability of Voter Cards, proximity of Polling Units (PUs) to citizens for easy participation in an election, level playing field for all parties/candidates, a plural political environment, the certainty of election dates and confidence that votes would count.
The expectation by citizens that on Election Day, the PUs would open on time, materials and staff would be timeously and adequately deployed, equipment would be functional, the environment would be peaceful and the outcome transparently collated, recorded, transmitted and declared.
He noted that the expectations which he had identified required acute thinking because some of them were beyond the immediate powers of the Commission. Even then, he argued, the Commission’s success depended on planning. “A successful, credible election does not come by fluke. It is achieved by diligent planning and dogged implementation”, he asserted.
In his goodwill address, the Country Director of the International Foundation For Electoral Systems (IFES), Shalva Kipshidze, said the success of every institution was characterized by its willingness to plan. Argued he: “Strategic planning is a tool that is useful for guiding day-to-day decisions and also for evaluating progress and changing approaches when moving forward. So an opportunity to review the implementation of the strategic plan with efforts to improve is highly commendable.”
Mr Kipshidze said the review of the 2012-2016 Strategic Plan was pivotal as it would provide the right platform for INEC to consolidate the gains made and further improve the democratic process through critical, concise, constructive analysis and assessment to assist in strengthening the subsequent Plan.