Sat. Mar 25th, 2023

Osinbajo Backs CBN’s Push for Cashless Economy

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  • Says It Will Curb Illicit Election Financing

Vice president Yemi Osinbajo has declared that the drive for a cashless policy in the country would go a long way to curb illicit election financing in the country.

Osinbajo said this yesterday while playing host to a delegation of the European Union Election Observation Mission led by Andrews, who is also a member of the European Parliament, at the State House, Abuja, Osinbajo noted that so much money could be spent without it being tracked under the current election financing system in the country.

Osinbajo submitted that when fully operational, the cashless policy being introduced in Nigeria could help stem the surge of illicit election financing by making it possible to track funds.

According to him: “I think that what we should be looking at is to provide more infrastructure. The cashless thing has been really advantageous and helps with tracking. That sort of infrastructure is useful for more financial inclusion and the more financial inclusion you have, the easier it is to track.”

While noting the serious difficulty in controlling election financing because of cash transactions, the vice president stated that there were still infrastructure issues required to be in place to ensure an efficient cashless system in the country.

He observed that with cash transactions, it was still difficult to seriously control election financing.

On the issue of electoral offences, Osinbajo pointed out that there was the Electoral Offences Commission Bill at the National Assembly and, “we hope that it will begin a new regime of dealing with electoral offences which would be helpful.”

He emphasised that by and large, one shouldn’t expect the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to be the investigator of electoral offences.

“I think that law enforcement agencies should be responsible for arresting and prosecuting offenders, state by state.

“Electoral offences are always seen through a political prism; people will always feel that they are being prosecuted because they belong to a certain party.

“What is more important is that we have to find a system where the police could have a special unit for offences during the course of elections. The Federal High Courts could also have a special jurisdiction to deal with offences and not extend beyond the Federal High Courts,” he added.

Commenting on the role of the judicial system, the vice president noted that more attention should be paid to the monitoring of tribunals and their outcomes, calling for more scrutiny from the National Judicial Council.

He disclosed that there were discussions in the past concerning malfeasance on the part of some judges, saying those found guilty should be brought to the fore.

His words: “There should be sanctions and that way, we would be able to clean up and correct some of the problems”.

In his remarks, Andrews disclosed that the Observer Mission would be monitoring the elections coming up next month, saying he anticipated a peaceful and fair electoral process.

According to him, “this is the seventh time INEC is inviting the EU Mission to monitor the elections,” adding that the team has been in the country since 11th January and would be here till the end of March, 2023.

The EU EOM Chief Observer urged authorities, candidates and political parties in Nigeria to ensure that the upcoming general elections are peaceful and further election-related violence is prevented. Every voter has the right to cast their ballot in a safe environment free from intimidation and undue influence.

“We encourage the authorities, candidates, and political parties to commit to peaceful conduct prior to, during and after election day. Cooperation between all institutions and parties participating in the elections is crucial. The presence of a level playing field, freedom of expression, assembly and association, respect for human rights and a neutral and independent election management body at all levels are all essential for democratic elections.”

Andrews said the mission would also study the new electoral law and interact with the stakeholders on the challenges ahead.

He said the 2022 electoral act which introduced new measures aimed at enhancing various aspect of the conduct would be closely followed to monitor its implementation.

The Chief observer explained that the mission had met with the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC and had so far seen that Nigeria was prepared for the 2023 election

During his four-day visit to Nigeria, the Chief Observer has met with a wide range of interlocutors, including state authorities, INEC, political contestants, members of the judiciary, media stakeholders, citizen observers as well as other civil society representatives to discuss the ongoing electoral process.

He noted that the Electoral Act 2022 has introduced new measures aimed at enhancing various aspects of the conduct of elections. As part of its overall analysis, the EU EOM would closely follow its implementation. For the first time in Nigeria, the mission has a dedicated Election Technology Analyst who is assessing the use of technologies, especially the verification of voters and the transmission of results. A media analyst and a social media analyst are also undertaking an assessment of the role of the traditional media, as well as social media and digital communication during the process.

The EU EOM started its work nearly three weeks ago with the arrival of a core team of 11 experts with competencies in various aspects of elections.

Since 29 January 40 long-term observers in teams of two follow the electoral process in all the states of Nigeria. Seven Members of the European Parliament, together with some 40 locally recruited observers from 25 EU Member States, Switzerland, Norway, and Canada’s representatives in Nigeria were expected to join the mission shortly before election day.

In total, around 100 observers would observe the voting, counting, and tabulation procedures on 25th February and 11th March, he disclosed.

The EU EOM would issue a preliminary statement two days after each election day and would remain in Nigeria until the completion of the entire electoral process including complaints and appeals processes, and any possible second round of the presidential election.

The EU EOM has been deployed by the EU following an invitation from INEC.

All mission members are bound by a code of conduct, which requires strict impartiality and non-interference in the elections.

Oher members of the delegation included Ambassador, EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ms. Samuela Isopi and Deputy Chief Observer, EU Election Observation Mission, Mr. Thomas Boserup

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