The former Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to link its voters register with the database of the National Identification Number, NIN, to tackle credibility and transparency issues in the nation’s electoral processes.
He said the singular act is capable of ending the problem of underage voting and multiple registrations among prospective voters in the electoral process.
The former Osun State Governor made this known on Tuesday while presenting the lead paper, “Towards Free, Fair, and Credible Elections,” at the 7th International Conference of the Professional Statisticians Society of Nigeria (PSSN) at Nasarawa State University, Keffi.
The former minister said: “I am suggesting a more seamless registration system that will be continuous and terminates only a few weeks before the election, to allow for compilation and printing of cards. This registration should be synced with the National Identification Number (NIN).
“It will automatically eliminate underage voters and the possibility of multiple registrations. More importantly, people should be able to do the registration online, on their own, just like most application processes we have today. They should only go to INEC office for biometric data capture and card collection only.
The second factor in the electoral process is the delineation of voting constituencies and poling units. This should be population based. There is also always chaos on election day as voters will be running helter-skelter, trying to find their polling units. There should be a system of notification or personal check to avoid this confusion.
“Thirdly, it appears for most part that agents of the political parties don’t know what to do on election day and at the polling units. INEC should endeavour to train them on what specific roles they will play in election.
In Britain, a party founded in February 2015, Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol (CISTA) contested that year’s General Election. Its sole manifesto was the legalisation of cannabis. It had 6,885 votes across the country. It contested the London Mayoral election on May 5, 2016 and finished ninth out of 12 candidates with 20,537 votes in the first round.
“There is also a Legalise Cannabis Australia founded in 1993 with the sole objective of legalising cannabis for personal, medical and medicinal use. It has seven of its members elected across Australia.
“Though I’m not advocating for these ideologies and as bizarre as these may sound to us, the democratic import of it is that the party represents the aspirations and expectations of some people. There are a thousand and one other issues, including secession, expulsion of foreigners, abolition of police and other law enforcement agencies on which parties are formed.
“This is the democratic essence. The space must be created to a reasonable extent to give people the room for the expression of their aspirations. Of course, there will be extreme, unreasonable and unrealisable aspirations, nevertheless, they should have expressions within reasonable limits.
“The process of counting votes and collation of results should be transparent and the rules should be followed, to eliminate anything that can detract from the integrity of the election. In many cases, the election will be smooth, but problems erupt during counting and collation.
“We should avoid the cynical statement ascribed to Joseph Stalin that those who vote decide nothing; those who count the votes decide everything,” Aregbesola stressed further.