As part of efforts to proffer ideas for the conduct of a credible election in 2019, Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa has advocated for change in the funding of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Okowas who spoke while members of Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) brainstormed on how to achieve a credible General Elections, said that alternative source of income would insure the electoral commission is truly independent.
The brainstorm session was part of the activities for the 3rd day of the 14th All Nigeria Editor’s Conference (ANEC) which had as its theme, ‘Credible Elections, Sustainable Democracy and the Role of the Media,’. According to the governor, “INEC is supposed to be an unbiased body, so, how can they truly be unbiased? How will they get their funding? How will they work on their process of appointments?
“These and more questions are what we are supposed to address and they have to be dealt with in such a manner that we can give them enough power, make them truly independent in such a manner that they do not walk cap in hand to the executive to ask for funding. “When you know that somebody controls the funds, you will definitely not be in a position to be truly independent.”
“It will be hard to say no when such individuals in charge of the funds make certain request, and I believe that INEC is gradually moving. “I still believe that there is a lot to be done which means that our legislations must be in such a manner that will truly make INEC independent and if they are going to be answerable to anybody at all, they should be answerable to the legislature and not any other arm of government which will be better,” Governor Okowa said.
He used the occasion to disclose why the Peoples Democratic Party’s special Convention Planning Committee which he was the Chairman was able to organise a free, credible and acceptable presidential primary election. “We did our best to conduct the primaries in such a way that one can truly say that we did things the way they ought to be. “We had to extract from our National Executive that we would be allowed to do what is right otherwise, we will not accept the nominations to conduct the primaries and I thank God that they allowed us do what is right,” he said.
Okowa added the press also had a big role to play by reporting appropriately and advise politicians while at the same time put us under pressure as well as fully inform the people. “We must realise that not just the Guild of Editors but, the entire press need to play the role it ought to play if we are able to do things better that will gradually improve the situation, so that we can conduct elections that are credible,” Governor Okowa added.
The governor who used the occasion to reel out his achievements in Delta State, emphasized the need for voters’ education and take people out of poverty.