The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has appreciated the federal government for funding of the commission’s campaign finance tracking exercise for the 2019 general elections, saying it was better than that of 2015.
Speaking yesterday in Uyo at a two-day retreat to review the draft report on campaign finance tracking for the 2019 general elections, the Akwa Ibom state Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mike Igini said training of the election and party monitoring campaign finance trackers also improved during the period.
Igini said the retreat is important because of the need for INEC to regulate the use of campaign funds in an electoral environment to create a level playing field for all political parties so that the electoral process will not be skewed in favour of wealthy candidates or political parties.
He stated that candidates who win elections under permissive and unregulated use of campaign funds were likely to be less accountable to the electorate and more responsive to the needs of their campaign financiers.
The resident electoral commissioner said that one of the oversight functions of INEC is to ensure transparency and accountability in the financial conduct of political parties and their candidates.
He explained that the commission is working towards strengthening its decision to regulate the campaign finances of political parties and urged the parties not to thwart INEC’s efforts by inventing new ways of by-passing the guidelines of the commission.
Igini stated that grey areas where institutions under executive control are involved in party financing have emerged, but should not be used to undermine the electoral framework regarding party financing.
He further dissuaded political parties from hiding under the executive branch to use party financing laws against their political enemies, saying the power to ensure non-partisan use of party financing laws rest with INEC alone.
The INEC official advised participants at the retreat to examine the possible consequences of political parties abrogating electoral laws and its effect on democracy and the integrity of elections.
He charged them to review the draft report and produce a campaign finance tracking document that is in tandem with the efforts and funds committed to the 2019 tracking of campaign finances.
Also speaking, INEC’s National Commissioner in -charge of Election and Party Monitoring, Prof. Antonia Simbine, commended the participants on the efforts that they have put in to surpass the achievements of 2015.