OrderPaper Nigeria addresses the press on the 2023 National Assembly Elections and the preparedness of Nigerians, laments poor quality of manifestoes as released by legislative candidates
Ahead of Saturday’s National Assembly Elections, Nigeria’s premier and pre-eminent policy think-tank/legislative interface, OrderPaper Nigeria, has released its assessment of the buildup to the all-important legislative elections.
Speaking at a briefing held at the Media Centre of the House Of Representatives, Abuja, on Thursday, the organisation expressed fears that many candidates seeking federal legislative seats do not have a clear picture of what they will be doing at the 10th National Assembly if they are elected on Saturday.
Led by its Executive Director, Oke Epia, the media briefing also had in attendance Temidayo Taiwo-Sidiq; OrderPaper’s Senior Programme Executive, and Bassey Bassey; Executive Director of Hipcity Innovation Centre.
According to Epia, its monitoring of campaigns for the 2023 legislative elections revealed that the majority of the candidates running for the 469 National Assembly seats (especially among aspiring lawmakers) cared very little about releasing an articulated plan of their campaign promises for their would-be constituents. Additionally, most of the manifestoes and campaign promises of the legislative candidates were heavy on subjects outside the core duty of a legislator.
He further disclosed that from the records available so far, only 0.23% out of the total 4,223 National Assembly Candidates running in Saturday’s elections had functional and well-articulated manifestoes that speak to these core duties. The campaign promises he explained formed part of its preliminary assessment tracked through a special election portal, media desk research, candidates’ websites and social media handles, and its army of grassroots volunteers across the 360 federal constituencies of the country.
As a legislative-focused organisation, it also observed that the majority of the lawmakers who have served between the 4th and 9th National Assemblies emerged through a bandwagon in each of the six electoral cycles since 1999. A trend, OrderPaper notes sacrifices merit for party considerations, especially as the National Assembly elections hold simultaneously with the highly-anticipated Presidential Elections.
“In no small measure, this has affected the quality of representation in each Assembly and also prevented effective service delivery. This development is what OrderPaper and our partners have considered necessary to address for the future development of parliament.”
They further explained from their recent pre-election surveys, 50% of about 1,000 respondents noted that they voted at the 2019 National Assembly Elections. Additionally, while 41.83% stated that they voted in the 2015 National Assembly Elections, 46.59% of the respondents said they voted at the 2011 NASS Elections, indicating that participation in National Assembly Elections has improved since 1999
OrderPaper expressed concern that while there appears to be increased awareness among Nigerians about the National Assembly Elections, many eligible voters do not know the candidates by name and barely read or sighted their campaign promises. The team highlighted the importance of the forthcoming election and key interventions it has made in the last year towards increasing awareness about the legislative elections.
Being the last day for the official close of campaigns for the National Assembly Elections, they encouraged Nigerians to take advantage of the list released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on September 25, 2022, and scrutinise the candidates seeking their votes on Saturday.
They also urged eligible voters to elect the would-be lawmakers on the basis of merit or performance (in the case of returning lawmakers) while calling on the media to give the 2023 National Assembly Elections robust reportage to enable Nigerians take the issues of parliament more seriously. This is as it promised to release a more detailed report containing comprehensive recommendations after the elections on Saturday.