Ahead of the Governorship and States House of Assembly’s elections coming up on 12March,2023, a Civil society group, under the auspices of Coalition of INEC Accredited Civil Society Organizations, has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC), to correct all problems encountered in the last Saturday’s presidential election, urging them to ensure results were uploaded immediately they ‘re announced .
The group also urged INEC to provide security on the roads for adequate protection of the people.
They made the call in a Post-election Press conference held on Tuesday in Enugu.
The group which was accredited by INEC to observe elections in Enugu State consists of International Community such as the British High Commission, Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, (DFID/FCDO), the Diaspora group and the Domestic observers.
In a post election press release signed by Comrade Barr. Crownwell Chibuzor- CSO LEAD Convener, Comrade Chris Okike Co- Convener, and DR. Olachi Chuks Ronne -Foreign Observers, the group said that Enugu state has 2,112.793 total made up of 973.043 male and 1.139.750 female. It has 17 Local Government Areas, 260 registration Areas, RAs, 4.145 polling units without any off-cycle election.
The text reads:
“As you are already conversant with the major role of the election observers as against the monitors is task of gathering information and sharing same with stakeholders in the election management chain for the purposes of better decision, improvement in processes and procedures, enhancement of policy development for the preservation of the dignity of human persons, leading to the overall consolidation of the democratic processes in the Country.
“We covered jointly all 17 LGAs, about 150 RAs, 2.800 polling units and collation points. Our observations are summarized below:
“Generally, materials and pooling started late in many of the rural communities and some around the Enugu municipal city, namely Asata and Achara layout etc. However, BVAS/ICT support teams were visible and active thereafter.
“Most of the polling unit ad-hoc staff were less than the official number.
” There was absence or neglect of priority voting in most places visited, eg the pregnant women, aged, persons living with disabilities (PWDs).
” Attitude of the electorates-the voters’ turn- out generally was very high when compared with the previous years.
“Inter-Security relations- the security component as a part of the election management body (EMB) was cordial, but the removal of the police on the high ways on the election days made election workers vulnerable.
“There was delay in the distribution of materials and late opening of poll in some locations of the state.
“INEC fulfilled the agenda according to its time table, but needs to do more in the interest of illiterate population in Nigeria, by the introduction of symbols to identify positions such as: president, senator and House of Representatives.
” There was late upload of the results from the polling unit to the INEC server.
“On professionalism of security agencies and their coordination, we recorded far much harmony than the previous elections. Cashless election was suspected to be a part of the calmness and tolerance.
“The BVAS functioned very effectively with insignificant rate of rejection of voters. It also recorded very high speed and turn-over rate per electorate in the state.
“On the issue of vote buying, it was not noticeable among different political parties for the cashless purposes”, the group said
Following the observations made, the Coalition made the following recommendations, among other things, “that ballot papers for the presidential, Senate and House of Representatives be symbolized specifically enough to be voter-friendly in terms of voter identification of each of the positions to enhance voter freedom of choice and reduce voter dependency on others which alters the freewill of voters.
“INEC to continue to play by the rules, especially in the areas of strict adherence to the provisions of the electoral Act, 2022.
“INEC to be strict “through its ad hoc staff in promoting priority voting and ensuring greater participation of the vulnerable groups. (Aged, pregnant women and persons with disabilities, PWD).
“INEC to also shun all acts likely to advance criminal enterprises within the electoral cycle, as we consolidate on our democracy as a Country”, they said.
The group commended the media in their objective reportage of the elections, saying, “we indeed found the media very objective in terms of reportage, impartial in terms of access to political parties in line with NBC guidelines and independence and professionalism in terms of content and engagement of the issues and do commend you Gentle men of the press”.
They appreciated the commitment of the foreign observers in Enugu state: British High Commission, Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), and the Diaspora observers for the vigor to engage the process in Enugu state. Same appreciation goes to all the domestic observers in the state ,especially those who worked in very challenging environments /boundary communities for all the sacrifices toward making our dear country a dependable and stable government for all citizens through impartial/ free electoral choices.
The group assured that as neutral and impartial non-state umpires, they will continue to work until success is achieved.
“We are confident that, with all election stakeholders working together under the coordination of the election management body (EMB), success is assured”, the Coalition said..