The European Union Election Observation Mission to Nigeria 2023 on Monday slammed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for failing to live up to expectations in Nigeria’s electoral process.
The Chief Observer, EU Election Observation Mission, Barry Andrews, in his preliminary statement of the EU EOM on the governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections said Nigerians hungered for democracy and were ready to be involved in the country’s democracy.
However, he noted the appetite was lost due to failures by the political elite and INEC.
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Andrews said, “Throughout the mission, we saw that Nigerians have a great appetite for democracy and are keen to engage in various civic activities. However, in many parts of the country, their expectations were not met. Many were disappointed and we witnessed voter apathy that is in part, a clear consequence of failures by political elites and, unfortunately, also by INEC.
“Public confidence and trust in INEC were severely damaged on 25 February due to lack of transparency and operational failures in the conduct of the federal level polls.
“Up until the postponement, INEC continued to abstain from providing information, limiting its communication to a few press releases and ceremonial statements and hence failing to address public grievances and rebuild confidence in the electoral process.
“From 11 March onwards, despite compressed timeframes, INEC introduced various corrective measures to render a timely delivery of electoral materials, efficient use of election technologies, and ensure prompt publication of result forms, some of which were effective.
“Positively, INEC introduced some corrective measures ahead of Saturday’s polls, allowing a timely delivery of sensitive materials and improved use of election technologies, yet the institution continued to lack transparency.”
Andrews stated that the March 18 elections did not face the same problems with the use of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System as on 25 February. Result forms for the governorship polls were uploaded and displayed for public scrutiny. Whereas at the time of the declaration of presidential results, only one-quarter of result forms were visible; by midday on March 19, governorship result forms available online ranged from 62 to 97 per cent depending on the state.
He, however, added that despite these improvements, “Polling on Election Day was disrupted by multiple incidents of thuggery and intimidation of voters, polling officials, observers, and journalists. Lagos, Kano, and other states in the southern and central parts were the most affected. Unfortunately, there were many casualties and fatalities. Vote-buying, also directly observed by EU EOM observers, further detracted from the appropriate conduct of the elections.”
The second preliminary report of the EU EOM Nigeria 2023 supplements the first report issued on February 27. The mission has been present in Nigeria since January 11 and will continue to observe post-election developments.
The EU EOM will present and publish its final report, including recommendations for improving the electoral framework in the next few months.
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