By Philomina Attah
Alliance for Deepening Democracy (A4DD), a coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and other stakeholders to take practical steps to ensure credible elections in future.
The group, which was represented by its Vice Chairperson, Faith Waziri, made the call at a media briefing in Abuja on Tuesday.
Waziri said the briefing was necessary following events in the recently concluded off-cycle gubernatorial elections in Imo, Kogi and Bayelsa States.
According to her, from all indications, INEC was not able to perform optimally in the three gubernatorial elections.
“A number of registered voters who failed to vote at the off-cycle elections expressed the belief that their votes will not count as they did not have faith in the electoral process.
“In a number of polling units, observers noted that there were late arrivals of voting materials and election officials.
“In some polling units, election officials and materials did not arrive until much later than 8:30 am when polls were supposed to have started earlier.
“And, of course the issue of a capsized boat with voting materials and INEC staff in Bayelsa State is another issue of concern,” she said.
She described the incidents as an indictment of the election management body.
“It is a clear indication of INEC’s inability to draw lessons from previous events to learn and improve on,” she said.
She urged INEC to take time out to properly address challenges in the electoral system to ensure the safety of election materials and a smooth electoral process.
“This then raises the question of whether or not INEC has a proper monitoring and evaluation mechanism to learn from previous elections,” she said.
Waziri also called on INEC to address the issues of bypassing the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) in the off-cycle election, adding that this would further give voters more confidence in subsequent elections.
“Bypassing BVAS takes our electoral process backwards and undermines the credibility of the process.
“The BVAS was primarily introduced to ensure a tangible means of verifying that those who voted were indeed registered voters in the polling units and are accredited to cast their votes.
“This once more begs the question of the level of preparedness of INEC and security agencies to ensure peaceful, free, fair and credible elections.”
The group, however, commended spirited voters in Bayelsa, Kogi, and Imo States who made every effort to perform their civic duty and exercise the rights and freedom to choose their next governor despite the many challenges they faced in doing so. (NAN)
Edited by Kadiri Abdulrahman/Isaac Aregbesola