Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu has warned incumbent office holders against using state resources or apparatuses for their campaigns or against their opponents.

Yakubu sounded the caution yesterday in Abuja at a lecture: “Political corruption and other emerging issues for the 2019 elections”,  organised by the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) in partnership with Christian Voice to the People (V2P) and Hope Givers Initiative (HOG-I).

He noted that the commission has the power to monitor campaign financing and sources of funds according to the Constitution and the Electoral Act 2010 as amended.

Yakubu, who was represented by a National Commissioner, Prof. Antonia Okoosi-Simbine, noted that the commission, in line with its powers as provided in Section F(15) in the Third Schedule of the Constitution, is well-positioned to, among others, monitor the campaign and finances of political parties for the 2019 general elections.

He added: “Another interesting area of campaign finance spending to watch out for is the use of state administrative resources by incumbents, particularly now that the campaigns have fully kicked off. Section 100 (2) of the EA provides that ‘state apparatus shall not be employed to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate at any election’.”

TMG Chairperson Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, in her remarks, expressed worries over the developments around the 2019 elections, saying experience from the off-cycle elections have shown widespread manifestation of political corruption, possibilities of widespread electoral violence, vote-buying and voters’ inducements.

“The implication or impact of vote-buying on Nigeria’s maturing democracy is well-traversed. There cannot be free or right choices of candidates with such ominous practices in such an environment. Such elections are simply for the highest bidder or the candidate with the deepest pocket without regard to competence or merit. Such electoral system has been observed to be incapable of producing a transparent government,” she said.

She said the TMG plan to release a report, titled: “‘Market place democracy and Nigeria’s electoral process: An analysis of the dimensions of political corruption and its implications on Nigeria’s democratisation process”, which will bring to fore how these tendencies manifest in the nation’s electoral system by the middle of December.

On her part, the Executive Director, HOG-I Mrs. Onyeka Udegbunam urged politicians and other stakeholders place national unity above personal interest to ensure the success of the 2019 elections.

A security expert and lecturer from University of Ibadan, Prof. Albert Olawale, however, warned that Nigeria’s present structure requires that the country has to be careful going into 2019 elections.

He said Nigeria is presently conflict-genic and that if care is not taken, the 2019 elections might be the trigger.

A Senior Fellow at the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Prof. Jibrin Ibrahim, who spoke on “2019 General Elections and the threat of transactional politics and other related matters”, warned electorates against vote-buying under any disguise, saying this would continue to worsen the situation.

Inspector General of Police (IGP) Ibrahim Idris said the increasing rate of vote-buying, rigging, act of thuggery, flash points of electoral violence, ballot box snatching small arms and light weapons, militant groups as potential threats to the 2019 elections.

Idris, who was represented by the Commissioner of Police, Federal Operatives, Force Headquarters, Keneth Ebrisem, however, assured that to checkmate the activities of thugs, profiling of their leaders, sponsors, sympathisers and their locations is ongoing.

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