By Hussaina Yakubu
Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISCLAC) on Thursday, met with stakeholders on ways to improve accountability in the country’s electoral and democratic process.
The meeting which was held in Kaduna had in attendance heads of NOA, ICPC, NFIU and the media.
It was organised under the Strengthening Accountability Network Among Civil Society (SANCUS) Project, funded by Transparency International.
The CISCLAC Country Director, Mr
Auwal Rafsanjani said that the
meeting was to inform citizens on the need for transparency in the political process, advocate for enforcement of laws guiding political party financing and the demerits of vote trading.
He explained that the project would run from January 2021 to December 2023, with the aim of improving democratic accountability of public institutions.
He said it would empower CSOs and the media to demand for systemic change, to address accountability and anti-corruption deficits.
Rafsanjani also said that the SANCUS project would address the issue of vote trading involving political parties, candidates or their agents.
The director expressed concern that the issue of vote buying and selling appeared to have become problematic in Nigeria.
According to him, money seems to have taken the centre stage in the political process of many countries including Nigeria, to the extent that the word “money politics” has crept into the country’s political vocabulary.
“The problem with this situation is that the electoral process is often compromised resulting in elections not being free and fair, which prevent electorates from reaping the dividend of democracy.”
He explained that the issues must be checked, so as not to jeopardize the democratization process in the country.
He explained that the SANCUS project plans to solve the challenges by advocating for operational independence of anti-corruption agencies.
While increasing the enforcement of existing anti-money laundering provisions and policies, there is also need to improve on oversight function of the National Assembly, he added.
He noted that the project would help the media and civil societies to investigate the presence of dirty money in Nigeria’s political processes and increase citizens demand for accountability in the funding of political processes.
According to him, this will instil sanity in the Nigerian political elites whose actions continue to tarnish the image of the country as a democratic space which operates within the purview of maximum respect for the rule of law.
Rafsanjani said the project came to Nigeria at the critical junction of its pre-election period for 2023 elections.
According to him, the meeting will also discuss how to ensure that relevant agencies play their roles to mitigate election manipulation via money politics, vote trading and the commercialization of electoral processes in the upcoming electoral circle.
Mr Hassan Sabiu, Assistant Commissioner, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) said they will continue to partner transparency international in fighting corrupt practices in
According to him, ICPC will support the project, which is focused on solving the core problem of “dirty money” being viciously utilised to perpetrate corrupt practices in the Nigerian political and electoral processes.
He noted that the givers and takers of dirty money are corrupt people whose offences are punishable under sections 8-26 of the ICPC Act.
“ICPC believes that the fundamental causes of dirty money in politics should be outrightly uprooted”, he added.
On her part, Amina Ahmad, representative of National Orientation Agency (NOA) said the agency has been concerned about vote buying, which has become a norm in the country’s political space.