As the 2019 elections approach, a special session of the Anti-Corruption Situation Room (ACSR) has identified over-monetization of the election process as a major challenge to a fair and seamless electoral process.

At a parley held in partnership with the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), National Orientation Agency (NOA), Technical Unit on Governance and Anti-Corruption Reforms (TUGAR), Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ), and the African Centre for Information and Media Literacy (AFRICMIL) with the support of Strengthening Citizens Resistance against Prevalence of Corruption (SCRAP-C), the gathering said the increasing desperation during party primaries and elections, as well as alleged inducement of judicial officers should be monitored by the Department of State Security Services (DSS), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).

In attendance were Olanrewaju Suraju, Chair of HEDA and Chairman of the occasion; Dr. Garba Abari; Director General, National Orientation Agency; Dr Abiola Akiode-Afolabi, Chairperson of the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG); Ebenezer Shogunle, Deputy Commissioner of ICPC; Eze Nwagwu Chair of Say No Campaign; Chido Onumah, Executive Director, AFRICMIL; Tony Ojukwu, Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission; Samson Itodo, Executive Director of YIAGA, media organisations and Civil Society Organisations.

A communique signed by Olanrewaju Suraju and Dr. Abiola Akiode-Afolabi, averred that Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) should establish partnership and engage with religious institutions and the media to embark on a citizen’s awareness campaign on the implications of vote buying/selling.

In his statement of support, Abari recognised the efforts of HEDA and its partners in engaging with other CSOs and government agencies to improve citizen’s participation in governance and political space. He noted that the meeting couldn’t have come at a better time than the approaching election period and, essentially, everyone is a stakeholder in the election process.

He expressed worry that elections are increasingly getting transactional due to the quality of candidates emerging through the electoral process, noting that power is sometimes only available to those with the deepest pockets, which he said is an infringement on the sanctity of the electoral process.

Citing examples from the Anambra, Ondo, Ekiti and Osun, he noted that the issue is far complex than just appealing to people on TV and social media, and appealed for partnerships between CSOs to be sustained and more vigilance.

Itodo from YIAGA spoke on 'Mobilising Political Parties, Actors and Electorate for Vigilance against Menace of Vote Trading' and the second speaker, Ebenezer Shogunle of ICPC, spoke on the 'Challenges of Dealing with Political Corruption - Perspective from ICPC'. After the presentations, participants deliberated on and interrogated the positons of the speakers.

Several points were raised including the influence of poverty on voting decisions, as well as the role of stakeholders in ensuring transparency in the electoral process.

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