By Dr. Inenyo Esinte
Political Party Agents are selected and INEC-accredited representatives of political parties partaking in an election, whose primary responsibility and task is to protect the interest of their political parties, in tune and tandem with the rules and ethics of the electioneering process.
To state it more figuratively, political party Agents are the selected and INEC-approved field Officers and Marshalls of political parties, assigned to represent political parties during an election, across polling units and result collation centres.
From the foregoing definition of political party Agents, the responsibilities, tasks, and roles played by political party Agents are very vital for the conduct of free, fair, and credible elections and the overall outcome and success of elections.
The character, charisma, attitude, disposition, conduct knowledge, awareness, and competence of political party Agents during elections, can make or mare the entire process and outcome, especially if such persons representing their parties at various polling units, wards, L.G.As, states and at the national level voting and result collation centres fail to abide and adhere to the rules of the process deliberately or ignorantly, thereby acts as impediments to the free flow of the process.
The caliber, competence, integrity, and capacity of persons political parties nominate to represent them across various polling units and collation centres, is ultimately and critically important, as they (party Agents) are the monitors, checks and balance, and supervisors of the voting and result collation process and the overall outcome of whatever transpired at polling units and result collation centres alike, thus the importance of political party Agents in the conduct of free, fair and credible elections come February, 25th 2023 and beyond cannot be over-emphasized.
From the above, the importance of political party Agents in the conduct of free, fair, and credible elections are diverse and multi-faceted, and if they subject themselves to the electoral rules, play and adhere to their roles properly, they will help in strengthening our established democratic practices, processes and norms in sync with global best democratic values.
It is also of utmost importance, for political parties to adequately train, educate and build the capacity and competence of their Agents before elections, to be in the know of every step, ethics, process, and normal flow of activities and events in the electoral process, in tandem with established electoral laws in every facet of our democratic process as it relates to their delegated responsibilities.
Thus, the training of political party Agents unilaterally by political parties or in conjunction with the electoral body INEC, will help elucidate and illuminate the minds of party Agents on what is expected of them across polling units and result collation centres, hence is strongly advocated, as this will enhance the conduct of free, fair and credible elections, because untrained, ill-informed and sub-optimally competent person as party Agents, will portend danger, threaten, cause chaos, anarchy, disrupt and derail the conduct of free, fair and credible elections. Note, the axiom, “Garbage in, Garbage out” applies here.
The electoral success, outcome, and victory of political parties, to some extent, also depends on the integrity, capacity, and competence of the persons political parties choose and nominate as Agents, across polling units and result collation centres, if the Agents of political parties are complicit, compromised and sold out and ignorant of the electoral process, it will directly or indirectly, positively or negatively affect the outcome and electoral fortunes of the parties they represent and negates the conduct of free, fair and credible elections.
Thus, political party Agents are important instruments and stakeholders of checks and balances, regulators and supervisors of our electoral process, they ensure that the rules of the game are strictly followed to the letter by INEC, opposition political parties, and all other persons involved in the electoral process. They are the ever-watchful eyes, across polling units and result collation centres to ensure that the process seamlessly begins and ends as stipulated by the electoral umpire (INEC).
Thus, political parties are expected to nominate and put forward their best as Agents to help add value to our democratic process.
Summarily, political party Agents are critical and important stakeholders and participants in our democratic process, if they are properly trained and educated, especially in accordance with the present electoral climate (amended electoral act, use of BVAS and other related technologies), prior to elections, and they adhere to the rules of the electoral process as enshrined in the electoral act as amended, they will facilitate, promote and enhance the conduct of free, fair and credible elections come 25th of February, 2023, thus the responsibility and onus is on all political parties to put their house in order accordingly, with keen attention to the current electoral realities and assist INEC in conducting free, fair and credible elections come 25th February, 2023 and moving forward.
Dr. Inenyo Esinte, is a political Strategist, Social Commentator, and Analyst.