CODE charges INEC to restore citizens’ confidence in democracy

CONNECTED Development (CODE), a non-profit organisation, has called on the Independent National Electoral Commision (INEC) to restore Nigerians’ confidence in the electoral process and democracy.

The Chief Executive of CODE Hamzat Lawal made the call on Thursday, March 16, during a pre-gubernatorial and state election press conference organised by the organisation in Abuja.

Lawal said there are high expectations from INEC to deliver a free, fair and credible election on March 18.

Speaking on the previous presidential election, he noted that there were many cases of widespread irregularities in the process, adding that the forthcoming election is another opportunity for the electoral body to redeem its image. 

“As we count down the hours, it’s important to highlight some of the lessons learned from INEC’s conduct and management of the presidential and NASS elections. With the deployment of Uzabe technology for election observation, we recorded many cases of widespread irregularities. We hope that these issues have been tackled by INEC and come March 18th, citizens will be allowed to exercise their civic duty without unnecessary hitches and glitches.

“There’s also cause to point out that the BVAS and IREV technologies put a lot of faith in the electorate and this forthcoming election is another opportunity for INEC to redeem its image and ensure that their technology is functional and INEC’s guidelines on its usage are adhered to. This is a call to INEC to restore the citizens’ confidence in our democracy.”

Lawal also noted that the country recorded its lowest ever voter turnout during the presidential election despite 87.2 million PVCs collected.

He listed late arrival of INEC officials, BVAS malfunction, and failure to deploy materials to many polling units across the country as the causes of low turnout during the presidential election.

“From our reports, there were many cases of technical disenfranchisement where materials were not deployed to many Polling units across the country, and many other cases, INEC officials arrived late to polling stations while in some cases, the BVAS machine failed, with no replacement provided, and for these reasons, thousands or perhaps millions of Nigerians were not able to cast their ballot.

“While we expect INEC to have addressed these issues, it’s important to drum the fact that the general outcome of the 2023 elections will determine citizen’s engagement and participation in our democratic processes in the future and so it is pertinent that INEC led by Chairman Yakubu Mahmood step up and ensure a seamless gubernatorial and state assembly election. It’s the first step towards rebuilding trust in the electorate and it’s important to save our democracy.”

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He further explained that naira redesign policy, fuel scarcity and insecurity contributed to the low turnout.




     

     

    “Many factors including currency and fuel scarcity, insecurity played a role in disrupting election preparation for the presidential and NASS elections. In many polling units across the country, voter access was compromised causing unnecessary delays and poor election conduct.

    “We call on INEC to adhere to its guidelines and effect adequate measures to tackle these issues as we vote come Saturday,” he said.

    CODE and her partners, therefore, appealed to INEC to “ensure that the many challenges that marred the credibility of the Presidential election should be handled; ensure a swift deployment and early opening of polls is put in place, professional conduct of security personnel, and INEC’s strict adherence to the use of VAS for biometric accreditation, and electronic transmission of results from polling unit as stipulated by the Electoral Act 2022 and INEC 2023 Election guidelines for the conduct of election.”

    “Following the trends; Lagos State has declared Or festival when there’s an election. Typically there’s no supposed to be any activity during elections because of the curfew. We suspect that this might be strategy to further disenfranchise voters and call on the Lagos State government and law enforcement agencies to address and put a stop to any activity that threatens the participation of the electorates in the and this elections. We also call on security agencies to also pay attention to identified volatile states and curb any stem of violence,” he added.

    Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: [email protected]. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M

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