By Lateef Ibrahim, Abuja
As the 2019 general elections draw closer, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday commenced the training of its staff on how to analyze, mitigate and manage the escalation of electoral violence and conflict throughout election cycles.
The Commission said that the electoral process is by nature fraught with several challenges that often test the skills of staff of Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs).
The Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu said this while declaring open a workshop on ‘Leadership and Conflict Management Skills for Electoral Stakeholders, organised by European Union Support Democratic Governance in Nigeria, European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES) and EU.
Prof Yakubu, who was represented by the National Commissioner and Chairman, Election and Party Monitoring Committee (EPMC), Mrs. Antonia Okoosi-Simbine, said that in developing democracies elections are at times perceived as warfare that must be win at all cost.
He pointed out that the commission had realised overtime that the cost of litigation arising from these conflicts and their negative consequences contribute in no small measure to stifling the growth and consolidation of the country’s democracy, hence, the creation of the Directorate of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
The workshop according to him, “is aimed at looking at ways in which representatives of electoral stakeholders can improve their leadership skills and take on board means for identifying, analysing, mitigating and managing the escalation of electoral violence and conflict throughout the respective electoral cycles.”
The chairman added that a cursory examination of the typical electoral cycle reveals that every phase is fraught with potential and real dangers.
Yakubu noted that an electoral cycle which is a tool to visualise the cyclical of the various electoral components with different stakeholders interacting and influencing each other in each period, is now a veritable theatre of conflict.
According to him, “So much contestation surrounds our elections with little or scant respect for rule of law and due process.”
The INEC chairman said the three basic phases in the electoral cycle namely; Pre-electoral, Electoral and Post electoral period throw up different choices with policy implications that are not often agreeable to the various stakeholders.
Yakubu stressed: “It is also within this context that one notes that the target departments as this training, that is, Election and Party Monitoring (EPM) and ADR. EPM deals department deals directly with political parties who are almost permanently in conflict and crisis either from without (intra and inter party conflict.
“It is in order to give an adequate attention and focus to the proper management of these conflicts that the political party complaints and liaison unit was created in EPM department.”