COMMUNIQUE OF THE 32ND ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF THE NIGERIAN POLITICAL SCIENCE ASSOCIATION (NPSA) HELD AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CALABAR, CROSS RIVER STATE, NIGERIA, 22ND TO 25TH JULY, 2019, WITH THE THEME GOVERNANCE, SECURITY AND ELECTIONS IN NIGERIA
The Nigerian Political Science Association (NPSA) held its 32nd Annual Conference at the International Conference Centre, University of Calabar from 22nd to 25th July, 2019. The theme of the conference was: Governance, Security and Elections in Nigeria. The conference was attended by over 650 participants including distinguished scholars/academics in the field of Political Science, practitioners and other related disciplines. The attendees also included representatives of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC); National Institute for Legislative & Democratic Studies (NILDS), Abuja; Fredrich Ebert-Stiftung (FES), Abuja; Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR), Abuja; Akwa-Ibom State Government; Cross River State Government; representatives of Ebonyi State Government; the management of University of Calabar; Civil Liberty Organization; Heads of tertiary institutions; the media; security services; Civil Society Organizations; Students and the general public. The conference featured two Roundtables on the 2019 General Elections and Democratic Consolidation: Challenges and the Missing Link as well as on Restructuring.The conference considered several issues of pressing/urgent national importance relating to, but not limited to elections, insecurity, governance, security architecture and Nigeria’s external engagements in a rapidly changing world order. In fact, 38 different parallel sessions were constituted to interrogate different aspects of the theme.
After exhaustive and dispassionate deliberations on the above issues, the conference noted the following challenges eroding democratic consolidation in Nigeria:
- Elections in Nigeria are highly securitized and this undermine voters’ participation in the electoral process.
- The issue of godfatherism is still rife and manifested especially during the 2019 General Elections.
- The incidence of imposing candidates abounds. Hence, litigations surrounding party nominations persist.
- A general environment of mistrust among the people, political institutions and leaders in Nigeria which is a major driver of electoral violence pervades the landscape.
- Recurring pattern of postponement of elections which erodes public trust in the electoral process and institutions has not abated.
- The delay in amending the Electoral Act that provided the latitude for abuse and breach of the electoral process during the 2019 general elections.
- The exorbitant cost of party nomination forms limited the participation of youths and women in seeking electoral offices.
- Most political parties lack the capacity and will to conduct transparent primary elections to select their candidates.
- The contributions of political parties to policy formulation and implementation have remained marginal.
- The dearth of technical infrastructure, limited funds and lack of database constitute major impediments to diaspora voting in Nigeria.
- The subjective application of the margin of lead principle eroded the integrity index of the election management body.
- The unfortunate partisanship of some security agents and demonstrated high level complicity in election terrorism undermined the credibility of the security apparatus and subsequently compromised the outcomes of the elections.
The recommendations for tackling the aforementioned challenges are sub-divided into specific themes:
- 2019 General Elections:
It is the position of NPSA that the following Action Plans are of utmost importance:
- While it is desirable to achieve diaspora voting in Nigeria, it requires a long-term plan and hence should not be rushed. However, commissioned research should explore a credible framework for diaspora voting in subsequent elections.
- Political restructuring that makes public offices less attractive is relevant for promoting credible elections, reducing incidence of electoral malpractices and violence.
- Electronic voting presents an opportunity for reducing cost of elections and countering numerous cases of electoral malpractices in Nigeria. This remains an inevitable way forward for the EMB in Nigeria.
- Researchers should examine the role of bureaucrats and the political class in election postponement in Nigeria. This is with a view to curbing future occurrence.
- Beyond condemning the roles of INEC and security agencies during the 2019 general elections, researchers should examine the role of academics in the conduct of elections in Nigeria from 2011 to 2019.
- INEC should be encouraged to intensify continuous voter registration and profiling elections offenders.
- NPSA should intensify efforts towards collaborating and synergizing with credible CSOs to improve the electoral system in Nigeria and provide a whistle-blowing platform to curb electoral fraud.
- Continuous implementation of electoral reforms is relevant for credible elections in Nigeria.
- Efforts should be intensified to unbundle INEC and hence limit the EMB to the conduct of elections while voter registration, monitoring and registration of political parties, delimitation of constituencies and voter education should be assigned to other agencies/institutions for greater efficiency in election management.
Deriving from the above, NPSA further made the following recommendations:
- NPSA recommends that a security summit made up of critical stakeholders should be organized to develop a blueprint for dealing with insecurity and related vices plaguing the country. The outcome of the summit must be given a legal backing and subsequently implemented.
- NPSA recognizes the proliferation of small arms and light weapons as a contributory factor to insecurity in Nigeria and therefore, recommends that government should mop up weapons in such as a way that the goodwill and intention of the government in this regard is seen to be in the general interest of the public.
- The idea of instituting a State police is long overdue. However, State police should fossilize through gradual and steady transmutation of the community policing framework. The NPSA is prepared to collaborate with Défense and Force Headquarters to organize a workshop/Summit/Roundtable to further the idea and provide acceptable operational frameworks for its immediate implementation.
- Economic transformation: NPSA recommends that:
- The task of economic rejuvenation must be comprehensive with significant investment in human capital development which will involve the critical stake holders in the articulation and implementation of sound economic policies.
- The infrastructure for advancing development such as energy, roads, hospitals, academic institutions etc must be technically equipped to support the baseline for inclusive and sustainable development.
- Political Parties should activate their respective manifestoes and devise potent means of galvanizing their members towards implementing sound development agenda. Again, these parties should also serve as potent instruments for influencing government decisions and emplacing development values and norms that will transmute the country to higher transformatory ethos. The best way to start is to divest itselves of the proclivities of authoritarianism that fuel imposition of indolent candidates that end up as liabilities to Nigeria. Democratization process must begin with the political parties and extend to the political class who then mobilize partisanship towards imbibing the tenets of democracy.
- The poverty situation in Nigeria has reached an elastic limit. Recently Nigeria was tagged the Global headquarters of the poor. The leadership should stop paying lip-service to issues bordering on poverty alleviation and deal with the nagging and threatening issue more seriously. The foundation of insecurity is traced to poverty and unless proactive actions are speedily taken to deal with the orgy situation, Nigeria’s future will continue to hand in symphony and subsequently slide into precipice.
- As a corollary of the above, the political leadership should commence immediate implementation of living wages for the workers in the private and public sectors. The idea of dialoguing without end over the implementation of minimum wage is becoming ridiculous and presents the government as insincere.
- Funding of research and implementations of critical findings should be encouraged, and higher institutions must be funded and mandated to provide direction for innovation, creativity and drive. Besides there must be adequate and sincere monitoring of funds advanced to institutions for research and human capacity development.
- The task of diversifying our income and promoting exploitation of solid minerals and other agricultural products remain desideratum for further action. Mobilization of internal human and material resources remain the critical key.
- Nigeria’s external relations: For a viable and virile external relation, NPSA recommends as follows:
- Political Leadership should adjust Nigeria’s foreign Policy orientation from being conservative, reactionary, ad hoc and centred around projecting self-serving parochial goals to promoting national development agenda and citizens’ centred transmogrification.
- The basic foundation of Nigeria’s foreign Policy must be built around instituting a global nation-state model that is inclusive, integrative and expresses the positive virtues of the nationalities. The state will therefore appropriate, respect and maximize the gains inherent in differences while at the same time promotes equalization of opportunities; and constantly reproduces autochthonous development that attracts rather than repels the citizens and predispose them towards searching greener pastures in other countries of the world.
- Ensure that experts with passion, sound and technical minds are appointed into institutions and agencies that formulate robust foreign policy agenda for Nigeria. This also involves engaging and tapping into the experiences of critical actors in this domain.
- Relevant institutions must engage the South African Government to curb the spate of xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other Africans residing in South Africa.
- Nigeria’s external relations must pursue the singular goal of advancing the welfare and wellbeing of Nigerians so that the incidence of globe-trotting in search of the needs of the stomach can be minimized.
- Nigeria-Africa relations must reflect economic development of Nigeria, projection of interests of Nigerians and as well have the potency of improving security, political stability and democratic consolidation of the country. The orientation of dash-dash politics should be discouraged. Realpolitik demands real appreciation of what is and mobilizing the needed resources to project internal development agenda that will form the plank of external engagements.
- Nigeria’s relations with the big global powers must be driven by experts, seasoned diplomats and authorities who can maximize the country’s potentials in dealing with their far-flung ‘benevolent capitalism’ and development pills which essentially reproduce need-saddled citizens amid plenty.
- Separatists and secessionist agitations: It is the position of NPSA that:
- The Federal government must be more proactive in dealing with national issues and must be seen to be inclusive, neutral and decisive in the art of governance – production and reward.
- All the levels of government must be averse to promoting ethnic and regional agenda.
- All court decisions with respect to incarcerated people should be obeyed and seen to be obeyed.
- The use of the apparatus of the state to intimidate and harass the opposition, as well as helpless and hapless groups and individuals is anachronistic and must be discouraged.
- Leadership of ethnic nationalities must appreciate the gains of heterogeneity and hence promote macro-nationalism through their respective utterances and actions.
- The Rural Gracing Area (RUGA): NPSA recommends as follows that:
- The Federal Government should organize an All Nigerian Summit to address the issue of settlement pattern and co-habitation among various nationalities. All forms of land-grabbing and imposition of personal or ethnic agenda must be discouraged. Effective and sincere dialogue remains the key for collegiality and coalescence.
- The RUGA project must have a component of providing support Funds/compensations to farmers whose crops were destroyed.
- The RUGA project will only succeed when the government is seen to be neutral from the contestations and when taints of imposition are suppressed in favour of good conscience and collective sense of purpose rooted on improving the legitimacy matrix.
- RUGA project should not be entirely driven by taxpayers’ money to avoid further agitations from other economic groups demanding for similar and/or commensurate treatment.
- Tunde Agara Chair
- Christian Ezeibe Member
- Musa Yusuf Yahaya Member
- Samuel Oyewole Member
- Lukman Saka Member
- Elias Ngwu Member
- Preye Kuro Inokoba Member
- Obi Ndifon Neji Member
- Gerald Ezirim Secretary
Professor Aloysius-Michaels Okolie Dr. Gerald Ezirim
President, NPSA Secretary, NPSA