Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), security agencies and other stakeholders to ensure free, fair and credible Presidential and National Assembly elections scheduled for Saturday February 25, and Governorship/States Houses of Assembly polls coming up on March 11.
In a communique signed by its President, Mustapha Isah and the General Secretary, Iyobosa Uwugiaren, at the end of its Standing Committee meeting in Abeokuta, Ogun State , NGE said that Nigerians were expectant of free, fair and credible elections, devoid of violence.
“We call on INEC to make good its promise of early deployment of electoral materials to polling units on election days and ensure its personnel, in their conduct, do not deviate from provisions of the Electoral Act and other laws guiding the elections.
“The NGE notes that all eyes will be on the operation of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and urges the electoral body to ensure that the devices are in top shape, to perform optimally and actualise the intended purpose of their introduction during the elections”, the communique stated.
The editors called on INEC to ensure the secrecy of ballots, by ensuring that its cubicles are well positioned to achieve this and cameras are kept away by voters while voting.
They noted the important role of security agencies in achieving free, fair and credible elections, urging them to be unbiased and ensure that voters are able to exercise their franchise freely in a peaceful atmosphere devoid of intimidation.
The Guild urged security agencies to be on the lookout for vote buyers and apprehend, prosecute the offenders. NGE advised them to provide adequate security for electoral officials and materials.
Expressing concern over the activities of some political parties since the commencement of the ongoing campaigns, the editors advised political parties and their candidates to play by the rules and impress on their supporters the need to avoid violence before, during and after the polls.
“We call on politicians to let their party manifestoes and campaign promises guide the electorates in making their choices, and to avoid inducing voters through vote buying.
“The Guild calls on the electorates to come out to perform their civic rights by speaking with their votes on election days and to avoid voter apathy,”the statement said
The NGE urged the media to be professional in their reportage and ensure proper fact checking before publication of reports.
The editors also called on all stakeholders, including Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), local and international election monitors/observers to play their roles within the ambit of the law in ensuring that the nation has yet another successful elections and transition.
The Guild also noted the current challenges over the cashless policy and advised the government, especially the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to address all challenges capable of affecting the conduct of the general elections.
The Guild expressed it’s appreciation to Ogun State government for providing a conducive environment for the Standing Committee’s meeting to hold in the state.