Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)is still grappling with basic legal and administrative challenges that could hamper its future functions.
This is contained in the final report of the European Union’s Election Observation Team on Nigeria’s March and April 2015 general elections made available to newsmen in Abuja to mark the end of its 10 months observance period of the elections.
Mr Santiago Fisas, the EU’s chief observer, noted that INEC still lacked full institutional independence that is supposed to make it not vulnerable to partisan operations,although he conceded that the electoral body performed impartially during the election, despite glaring challenges.
According to him, the Observation Team came up with 30 recommendations, which comprised of 19 that suggest changes in legislation, while eleven recommendations suggest administrative actions by different bodies.
“The law overly restricts INEC’s powers, rendering it insufficiently effective in challenging inappropriate actions.
“The EU is calling for the establishment of a more inclusive cross-party system for the appointment of INEC’s leaders.
“Nigeria must develop a plan for maintaining the voter’s register after a thorough review of the 2010-2014 registration process.The plan should include improving biometric functionality, removal of the deceased, as well as extending enrollment of new registrants,” he said.
The EU Team further recommended the amendment of the Constitution to allow independent candidacy at all levels, and also to strengthen the National Broadcasting Commission’s (NBC) capacity to adequately regulate the media during election campaigns to stem the abuse of incumbency power.
It also recommended that political parties should provide regular and adequate information on the promotion of women’s political participation, while INEC should merge accreditation and voting process on Election Day,and ensure reasonable time frame for the filing, hearing and determination of pre-election cases.