Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta has called for proper funding of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to enable it to carry out its responsibility of organising credible elections devoid of interference.
Okowa made the call on Friday in Asaba in his presentation during the executive session of the ongoing 14th All Nigeria Editors Conference (ANEC) holding in Asaba.
According to him, the electoral body cannot carry out is constitutional duties of conducting free, fair and credible election if it is not financially independent.
“We cannot have a credible election if the electoral umpire is incapacitated to carry out its functions of ensuring credible elections.
“As a nation, we have an obligation to make INEC truly independent by ensuring the commission is fully and adequately funded.
“In a situation where the electoral body go hand-in-cap begging for funds from the executive, it makes it difficult to guarantee credibility of electoral processes,” he said.
Okowa said that when an electoral body was constrained to carry out its functions, it exposed it to the control of the executive and the tendency to compromise its integrity.
He said: “If INEC should be answerable to anybody, it should be the legislature and not the executive.
“If we must have an independent electoral body, we must give it all necessary assistance it desires.”
The governor also noted that credibility of elections in Nigeria would remain a mirage, as long as the majority of the citizens lived in abject poverty.
He said that poverty in had contributed to corrupt practices among the electoral officials and voters alike, thereby undermining the process.
Okowa said that many cases of vote buying and other forms of cash inducement in the country’s electoral process were as a result of poverty.
He appealed to the media to join in the fight against acts that tend to compromise the country’s electoral process by exposing them.