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A group of Civil Society Organizations has rated the Independent National Electoral Commission high for its conduct in the 2023 presidential elections.
The group – Human Rights and Grassroots Development Society, HRGDS, in partnership with Police Community Relations Committee, PCRC and Committee for the Defence Of Human Right, CDHR in Ogun had deployed observers for the February 25 elections.
While the group identified some shortcomings from the election, they maintained that INEC performed above average though it was below expectations.
Speaking recently at a press conference, the executive Director Human Rights and Grassroots Development Society, Yinka Folarin, noted that the group rated INEC from selected areas in twenty-seven states and the FCT where observers were deployed to monitor the elections.
Late arrival of officials, logistic challenges, low voter turnout, electoral transparency, non-compliance to electoral guidelines amongst others were identified as shortcomings.
“The HRGDS field observation revealed 26% of INEC officials arrived 7:30am while others arrived late or did not show up. The late arrival of the officials resulted in delayed accreditation of voters and voting, statistically, it varied by geopolitical zones 46% percent of our sampled polling units commenced 9:30am, North East 46% of polling units, North West 66% of the polling units, North Central 49% while in the Southwest, South South and South East the delay was more pronounced.
“The election day process recorded widespread logistical challenges resulting in late arrival of polling officials and late opening of the polling units across the HRGDS sampled twenty-seven States and FCT, particularly in South South, South East and Southwest geopolitical zones. HRGDS observed that as a result of logistical problems some polling units failed to open on election day. HRGDS redeployed observers to 30 of its sampled polling units affected by logistical problems, it was further observed that INEC failed to redeploy and conduct election in 16 (less than 1%) of the sampled polling units, they include Lagos, Taraba, Adamawa, Jigawa, Katsina, Anambra, Imo, Cross River and Rivers.
“Consequent upon avoidable disruptive factors such as technological failures, logistical problems, failure in compliance with electoral guidelines, deficiency in electoral transparency among others which cast aspersion on public confidence in the election umpire INEC and the outcome of the process”, Folarin said.
Meanwhile, the group said the election was laudable with the Conduct of Security personnel, local production on sensitive materials and early deployment of the materials to the states and the creation of additional polling units by INEC was a positive development.
In agreement to Folarin’s position, the PCRC National Chairman, Ibraheem Olaniyan, scored the electoral body 75% adding that there is a democratic progress.
He said, “Though the opinion of some candidates is that the election is not credible but from findings we can say it’s 75% Okay. Democracy is something that we are going to build on every year every day. American the mother of democracy is not perfect the year they started it and they are progressing, so we hope.
“And for the INEC, so far we believe there are going to improve even we are in support of the postponement, if that will give them better preparation and good outcome.”
On his part, the Ogun CDHR chairman, Mustapha Tiamiyu, acknowledged that the electoral process was not 100% fair due to instances of violence, ballot box snatching, and vote buying, especially in some pulling units in Abeokuta.
He commended the efforts of INEC scoring them 65%, maintaining that the commission performed below expectations.
When asked if the group is satisfied with INEC’s preparation ahead of the governorship and Assembly elections, they said though they are in support of the postponement, they can not say if the commission has absolutely done the needful.
They however urged all to shun violence, embrace peace and come out to exercise their franchise.
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