The Director, IRIAD/The Electoral Hub, Princess Hamman-Obels, has explained that the pillars of democracy were participation and inclusion, saying that citizens cannot have democracy without the freedom to participate.
Princess Hamman-Obels spoke on the theme: “Safeguarding the Integrity of Elections and Democratic Governance”, during its civic education programme for the youth in Abuja organised by the Initiative for Research, Innovation and Advocacy in Development (IRIAD) in collaboration with the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room.
He said election in Africa should allow for equality of political participation and free competition among interest groups, adding that elections remain one of many ways of choosing leadership and disposing of old governments in a political system.
“Political participation in democracy is based on the notion of citizens’ political equality.
“Political equality implies individuals who so wish can form a political party and contest in elections on thesame conditions. And also all citizens of age and mental sanity should be able to cast their vote based on the principle of one man one vote.
“In essence, the sovereignty of the people should be distributed equally.
“A fair election should include; proper ballot boxes, impartial assistance of voters, transparent counting procedures, proper handling and transportation of the ballot, and other sensitive election materials.
“Others include, expeditious announcement of election results, an impartial and expeditious election complaints resolution system, impartial media coverage of elections and equitable media access for all parties, acceptance of election results by all stakeholders.
She noted that election is a competition, adding that part of what stakeholders should know is that election is competition, urging participants not to allow their emotions becloud their sense reasoning, and the need for proper strategy to win elections.
Hamman-Obels said election is process and not an event, adding that the processes are complex. “Electoral processes are complex, standardised activities that require clear, simple and relatively comprehensive legal definition in order to promote consistency, equally and a common understanding of electoral frameworks by all elector stakeholders.
“Every election comprises numerous elements and involves multiple institutions and actors throughout the pre-election, election, election day and the post period , all of which affects the transparency, inclusiveness, accountability, and competitiveness of the election. So, it means that it is not only INEC that conducts the election.
Speaking on Democracy and Democratic Governance, Prof.Ogoh Alubo noted that democracy is the preferred system of government, adding that there are societies where there are good infrastructure and other social amenities, but the citizens lack the fundamental right of the freedom of expression.
He decried politics of “godfatherism” and money politics in Nigeria, and also lack of political ideology by political parties, as well as politicians, among others.