Ban on NGOs, poor security will hamper polls – Women group

THE Nigerian Women Trust Fund Gender and Election Watch (GEW) Room has said the ban on non-governmental organizations in Adamawa State and poor security in some states would negatively affect the governorship and House of Assembly election holding on Saturday, March 18.

In a statement signed by its Chief Executive Officer for Gender and Election Watch Room, Mufuliat Fijabi, and mailed to The ICIR on Friday, the group urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to do better than it did during the last presidential election.

The group said it mobilized 350 accredited observers across the six geopolitical zones to observe the gubernatorial and state Assembly elections from a gender perspective in the following states, Lagos, Oyo, Kano, Rivers, Adamawa and the State House of Assembly elections in Kogi and Anambra.  

“The security situation is generally calm but for the perceived threat of violence. For example, our observers reported that only a few local government areas in Anambra State (Nnewi North, Amawbia in Awka South and Ihiala) have security personnel patrolling. This is also the case in some parts of Lagos State.

“The ban on the operations of NGOs in Adamawa State is worrisome because INEC has accredited observers in line with the Commission’s guidelines who are already present in the state, and the ban will cause a strain on their operations.”

The ICIR reports that the Adamawa State government suspended the activities of all local and international NGOs in the state after it got information that they engaged in vote buying during the last presidential election. 

According to the women’s group, its observers would provide feedback through an electronic gender-based checklist. “The analysis of this feedback forms the basis for NWTF GEW statements on the conduct of the elections on March 18 2023, especially around the participation of women and other vulnerable groups. “Additionally, NWTF’s GEW Room will closely observe the election day performance of voters, candidates, and electoral officials from a gender perspective. NWTF’s GEW will also pay attention to adherence to the operational guidelines for the elections.”

Meanwhile, the group said INEC recorded remarkable distribution of materials across all the states where it (NWTF GEW) has observers. 

It commended the effort and urged that it translates into the early deployment and opening of polls. 




     

     

    “Women remain committed and look forward to participating in the gubernatorial and State House of Assembly elections, but some underlying security fears remain for women in Kano and Rivers. Aside from the general security concerns in Lagos, the conduct of cultural rites in some parts has created additional worries.”

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     The group noted that security agencies must be non-partisan in discharging their duties and allay the fears of voters, especially women, throughout the elections. 

    “That the safety of all INEC accredited observers be guaranteed in Adamawa State as the blanket ban on NGO operations around the election is counterproductive.

    The Gender and Election Watch (GEW) Room is an initiative of the Nigerian Women Trust Fund, an organization founded to close the gender gaps in governance in Nigeria. GEW is an election observation tool from a gender perspective. The GEW observed the 2023 Presidential and National Assembly Elections of February 25, 2023. 

    Marcus bears the light, and he beams it everywhere. He's a good governance and decent society advocate. He's The ICIR Reporter of the Year 2022 and has been the organisation's News Editor since September 2022. Contact him via email @ [email protected].

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