THE Centre For Democracy and Development (CDD) has given its final analysis of the just concluded Anambra State governorship election.
In a statement released on Friday CDD observed that the Anambra poll highlighted difficulties that may affect the conduct of the 2023 general elections as insecurity spreads and deepens in most parts of the country.
“The militarization of what ought to be a civic activity and the fears and uncertainty it generated among voters and even critical election stakeholders undoubtedly contributed to low voter turnout,” the statement said.
The group added that failure of the current democratic dispensation to cater to citizens’ socio-economic wellbeing and safety, expectations that politicians with oversized purses can buy their way into public office, the prevalence of fake news and fears that the Federal Government will use federal might to subvert the will of the people all contributed to voter apathy.
The 2021 off-cycle election recorded the lowest turnout figures since the return to democracy in 1999, CDD said.
“With just 10.27 per cent of the nearly 2.5 million registered voters casting a ballot this is a decline from the figures in the past three governorship elections in the state, which have remained low at 16 per cent in 2010, 24 per cent in 2013, and 22 per cent in 2017.”
The group further observed that challenges recorded with the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and other logistic problems highlighted the need for extensive preparation and training before adopting technology as the 2023 elections draw near.
“The reported malfunction of the BVAS in some polling units has raised concerns about the device’s reliability. However, on the whole, the successful deployment of the instrument across polling units, as reported by our observers, demonstrates its utility,” the group said.
CDD also said the late arrival of election materials and poll officials calls for a review of INEC’s logistics template, particularly under the current insecure conditions.
The use of fake news as a tool to deter or confuse the electorates was also highlighted.
“The Anambra election saw the weaponisation of fake news and disinformation to mislead, confuse or frighten the electorate. False information appeared to be targeted at undermining faith in the process, reducing participation and questioning the credibility of the outcome.”
The group said the media and local observer groups that dared all the threats and monitored the election contributed to the success of the poll.
“A large deployment of media and local observers were in the state to cover the conduct of the election. Their presence exercised positive pressure on key election stakeholders. This is further evidence that the media plays a decisive role in entrenching a democratic culture in the public’s consciousness. ”
The resilience of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct the election professionally was also applauded despite several difficulties.
In its recommendations for a successful election in 2023 CDD urged INEC to swiftly address the hiccups with the BVAS and strengthen the device’s infrastructure.
It also encouraged INEC to review its current logistics strategy, improve it and look into hiring private logistics companies who can be held accountable for any breach caused.
CDD urged INEC to improve the speed of transmission of results to IREV to assure stakeholders of the integrity of the process.
It further urged all stakeholders to address the challenge of election-related fake news and disinformation and also support continuing efforts to educate citizens about the merits of not selling their votes to political players.