Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi elected chair, as TMG gets new board
Prominent lawyer and civil rights activist, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, has been elected Chair of the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), a coalition of 400 civil society organisations. The TMG leadership election, which held during the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the group, which took place in Abuja last week, produced 10 other Board members to pilot the affairs of Nigeria’s foremost election observation coalition, for the next four years.
The new TMG Board is made up of the Chair, the Vice Chair, six representatives of the geo-political zones, and one representative each for youth and People Living with Disability (PWDs). Running unopposed, Dr. Akiyode-Afolabi emerged leader of Nigeria’s foremost civil society coalition. She will be taking the reins from Comrade Dr. Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi, who has led TMG since 2012.
In her acceptance speech, the new TMG leader thanked her predecessor, Comrade Dr. Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi, for giving TMG quality leadership and for his charisma. “We are also grateful to previous TMG leaders, for their selfless roles in nurturing TMG and in ensuring the baton is passed on,” she said.
Akiyode-Afolabi, however, noted that today, Nigeria stands in dire need of a formidable force to entrench democratic values through credible elections. “We stand bold to say here that no other coalition or organisation in Nigeria is better positioned to achieve this feat than TMG. In essence, we all have a historic responsibility to make the aspirations Nigerians come true by empowering them to demand, defend and claim their electoral rights and holding our leaders and the system accountable,” she said. “The task before us is to engage the civic space and other critical stakeholders, to ensure election results reflect the wishes of the people. This is the road to travel to ensure effective representation at all levels of government, without which good governance would not be possible.
“In this respect, civil society must consolidate their work with the Nigerian people and set agenda that will guarantee good governance and accountability. One major concern to the polity is the re-occurring problems of inconclusive elections, which TMG is poised to work with other stakeholders to address, so that subsequent elections are duly concluded, legitimate and reflect the wishes of the voters and the general populace.
“This task becomes the more urgent with the recent position of the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that the electoral umpire cannot guarantee the Nigerian people conclusive polls come 2019. While it is true that chronic insecurity in the electoral space has been largely responsible for the inconclusiveness of recent elections, INEC has an important role to play, if we must address all inconclusiveness in the electoral process. The commission must be proactive in putting systems in place and in educating voters in electoral constituencies to help them understand the realities of the process. We, therefore, call for an Electoral Offences Commission to address electoral impunity.”
Other elected TMG Board members are Mr. Okeke Anya, Civil Society Legislative Action Centre (CISLAC) based in the FCT, Vice Chairman; Mr. Abdiel Kude, Global Community Prime Initiative, based in Kaduna State, Treasurer; Mr. Mustapha Mohammed, Democratic Action Group (DAG) based in Kano, Representative for North West; Mr. Musa Adamu Abubakar, Bauchi Human Rights Network, based in Bauchi State, Representative for North East; Salifu Arome, Africa Youth Foundation, based in Kogi State, Representative for North Central; Chief Nengi James, Niger Delta Development Monitoring Group, based in Bayelsa State, Representative for South South; Mr. Sulaimon Arigbabu, HEDA Resource Centre based in Lagos, Representative for South West; Mr. Okey Onyeka, Representative for the South East; Ms Ekaete Judith Umoh, Joint National Association of Persons Living with Disabilities (JONAPWD) based in the FCT, Representative of People Living with Disabilities and Mr. Tijani Abdulkareem, Socio Economic Research Centre, based in the FCT, Representative for Youth.