Some international election observers have expressed concern about the ability of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to function optimally in the 2023 general elections.
The joint delegation of the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) expressed their concern Friday during a press conference in Abuja.
The five-member delegation includes Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose; a former minority parliamentarian from Sierra Leone, Bernadette Lahai; a former Director of Elections, Registration and Demarcation at the Electoral Commission of Ghana, Albert Kofi-Arhin; an NDI regional director, Christopher Fomunyoh; and Jenai Cox, deputy regional director for Africa at IRI.
Members of the delegation took turns reading sections of the joint statement from their first pre-election assessment mission to Nigeria to journalists who expressed concern about whether the INEC results visualization portal (IReV ) and the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) will operate at the same time. as evidenced by recent gubernatorial elections in Ekiti and Osun “when they were bolstered for national elections”.
While noting other concerns to be addressed ahead of the 2023 elections, the delegation said that INEC’s elimination of voting points contributed to the transparency of the results but also posed a new challenge to voters.
“Instead of turning the old polling stations into new polling units, INEC largely established the new polling units in new locations. Recognizing that moving voters to a new location presents a challenge, INEC plans to include only new voters or voters who choose to transfer their registration to these new polling places. This approach is unlikely to solve the anomaly of overcrowding in existing polling stations,” noted delegation member Ms. Lahai.
She said there was a need to further restrict access to polling stations to reduce the conditions for harmful behavior when exercising to vote.
She also pointed to inter-party disputes, insecurity, high nomination fees by political parties, electoral violence and low representation of women in positions of power among the issues that Nigeria must address ahead of the 2023 elections. .
In its recommendations read by Ms. Cox, the NDI/IRI delegation called for the rapid disbursement of funds for INEC, so that they can play their part in the election cycle without fear or favour.
The delegation also advised INEC to capitalize on the excitement among Nigerians following the just-concluded gubernatorial elections in Ekiti and Osun States and extend the voter registration period.
“INEC should publish disaggregated data on Registered Persons with Disabilities (PDs) ahead of elections and invest in data collection to map the location and type of assistance needed by persons with disabilities, and verify the layout of polling stations. vote to ensure compliance with the INEC polling station scheme,” Ms Cox said.
The delegation also urged the commission to seize the renewed interest of Nigerians in the electoral process to engage them on issues that matter to them.
He said the country, for the first time since 2007, could see open competition in the next presidential poll.
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“The 2023 elections deviate from some of the political dynamics that have defined previous polls. For the first time since 2007, the presidential election will be an open contest without a holder. The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has chosen former Lagos Governor Bola Tinubu as its flag bearer. Former vice president and 2019 presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar will compete on the ticket of People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
“However, the emergence of Peter Obi, former governor of Anambra State and presidential candidate Labour Party (LP) and Rabiu Kwankwaso – former governor of Kano and presidential candidate of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) – as viable third forces “has excited many young Nigerians,” the observers said.
Ekiti, Osun polls
The delegation which observed the recent gubernatorial elections in Ekiti and Osun states, acknowledged the improvements in the country’s electoral reform, the pace of transmission of election results, electronic voter accreditation, among others .
The polling result, he said, shows a departure from the anomalies that characterized the 2019 polls as well as the general election.
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