Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo says a cashless policy, when effectively operated, can help stem the surge of illicit election financing by making it possible to track funds.
He stated this on Monday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, when he received a delegation of the European Union Election Observation Mission led by Mr Barry Andrews, the Chief Observer, who is also a member of the European Parliament.
“I think that what we should be looking at is to provide more infrastructures. The cashless thing has been really advantageous and helps with tracking.
“That sort of infrastructure is useful for more financial inclusion and the more financial inclusion you have, the easier it is to track.”
Prof. Osinbajo said so much money could be spent without it being tracked under the current election financing practices in the country.
Pointing out the serious difficulty the country faces in controlling election financing because of cash transactions, the vice president said that there were still infrastructure issues required to be in place to ensure an efficient cashless system in the country.
“With cash transactions, it is still difficult to seriously control election financing,” he said.
On the issue of electoral offences, the vice president said that there is the Electoral Offences Commission Bill at the National Assembly and expressed hope that it would begin a new regime of dealing with electoral offences which would be helpful.
“By and large, one shouldn’t expect INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) to be the investigator of electoral offences.
“I think that law enforcement agencies should be responsible for arresting and prosecuting offenders, State by State.
“Electoral offences are always seen through a political prism; people will always feel that they are being prosecuted because they belong to a certain party.
“What is more important is that we have to find a system where the police could have a special unit for offences during the course of elections. The Federal High Courts could also have a special jurisdiction to deal with offences and not extend beyond the Federal High Courts.”
On the role of the judicial system, the Vice President said more attention should be paid to the monitoring of tribunals and their outcomes, calling for more scrutiny from the National Judicial Council.
He disclosed that discussions have been had in the past concerning malfeasance on the part of some judges and those found guilty should be brought to the fore.
“There should be sanctions and that way, we would be able to clean up and correct some of the problems,” Prof. Osinbajo stated.
The EU Chief Observer, Mr Andrews said the Observer Mission would be monitoring the elections coming up next month and hoped for a peaceful and fair electoral process.
According to him, this is the 7th time the Independent National Electoral Commission is inviting the EU Mission to monitor the elections.
He added that the team has been in the country since 11th January and would be here till the end of March 2023.
Other members of the delegation include Ms Samuela Isopi, Ambassador, EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS and Mr Thomas Boserup, Deputy Chief Observer, EU Election Observation Mission.