Former Governor of Delta State, Emmanuel Uduaghan, has advised the Federal Government to start gradual release of funds to the Independent National Electoral Commission for the 2023 general elections in 2020.
Uduaghan gave the advice on Tuesday, while delivering a lecture on “Making Nigeria elections cleaner, transperant and credible” at the first “Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan Annual Public Lecture,” held at University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
He said that the early commencement of the release of funds to INEC in 2020 would enable the commission to start preparations for 2023 in time.
He also recommended more voter education to curb the rising culture of vote buying and violence which, he said, became more prevalent during the last polls.
He said: “The argument that voters sell their votes because of hunger does not hold water. How much does the person who sells his or her vote get?
“An enlightened electorate will not sell their votes because to do so means they are selling their future and have no right to demand for prudent and accountable government from those elected.
“Unless there is serious voter education that makes people aware of the harm in bargaining and selling their votes, the country’s democracy will not be deepened as wrong people will continue to win elections.”
He also called on INEC to ensure the arrest and prosecution of those suspected to have committed electoral offences during the general elections.
He said that for Nigeria to organise better elections in future, all those that violated electoral laws should be punished expeditiously to serve as a deterrent to others.
He said, “I am aware that many offenders in 2015 elections are still in court, while others have not made court appearance. This should change.”
He opined that setting up of election offences court was due and should be done as quickly as possible.
Uduaghan further urged President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the amended Electoral Act, saying that it would help to curtail electoral frauds and violence in future elections in Nigeria.
He said: “Signing the Electoral Act as amended by the National Assembly will help reduce electoral fraud and violence in future elections.”
He thanked the management of the university for the opportunity given to him to deliver the lecture and the cordial relationship between him and the university.
He said: “I appreciate UNN management for instituting a chair in the Faculty of Social Science in my name. I am humbled by this kind gesture.
“I will continue to hold UNN in high esteem and partner with the university in further development of the institution.”
In a remark, the Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Benjamin Ozumba, described the lecture topic as apt, considering that the nation had just emerged from the general elections.
He applauded Uduaghan for the lecture, saying that as governor for eight years he had ganered enough experience in the field of politics, especially the factors that practically affect elections.
He commended Uduaghan for his immense contribution to the development of the institution.