The European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES) says it is training 67 staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on how to monitor campaign finances of candidates and political parties ahead the 2019 general elections.

Mr Rudolf Elbling, the Project Coordinator of ECES, disclosed this on Monday at the commencement of the training of the INEC personnel drawn from the Election and Party Monitoring (EPM) Department in Keffi, Nasarawa State.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the programme is titled: “Training of INEC EPM Staff on the Redesigned Campaign Finance Forms’’.

Elbling, who was represented by Dr Isaiaka Yahaya, the ECES Senior Electoral Administration Expert, said the training was aimed at equipping the EPM staff with skills to effectively monitor the campaign finances of candidates and political parties ahead of the polls.

This workshop has been put together for the twin objectives of building the capacity of INEC staff to effectively monitor the campaign finances of political parties ahead of 2019 election.

“The political parties are primary stakeholders in the electoral process.

“The manner in which they carry out their activities especially in the areas of campaign finance has implications for the transparency and integrity of the electoral system.

“Excessive and improper deployment of money before, during and after elections distorts the essence of democracy as government of the people, by the people and for the people.

“And compromise the freedom of the people to exercise their choices in elections,” he said.

Elbling therefore charged the participants to use the knowledge gained in order to achieve positive result of monitoring campaign finances of political parties.

“It is my hope that deliberations and knowledge to be gained by participants at the workshop will strengthen INEC’s capacity to effectively monitor the activities of political parties;

“enthrone healthy campaign finance practices and entrenched internal democracy among the parties.

“It is also my hope that the outcome of the workshop will provide feasible solutions to the emerging threat of vote buying and selling which have been observed in recent off cycle governorship elections,” he said.

The ECES project coordinator restated the commitment of the centre to continue to train INEC personnel to strengthen democracy in the country.

Mr Aminu Idris, the Director, Election and Party Monitoring (EPM), INEC Headquarters, Abuja, commended the ECES for sponsoring the training and called on participants to take the training with all seriousness.

The director restated the commitment of the commission to conduct free, fair and credible elections.

NAN reports that the workshop brought together participants from 20 Northern states, including FCT, Abuja.