The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday promised Nigerians that it would not lower the bar in the 2023 elections, in the light of its achievements in the off-season Ekiti and Osun governorship elections, and that it would be bold and courageous in prosecuting the elections.
A National Commissioner of INEC and Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, made the promise in Abuja during a post-election roundtable and public presentation of the final report on the observation of 2022 Ekiti and Osun Governorship Election, organised by a human rights organisation, Yiaga Africa.
The commission also maintained its ground not to jettison electronic transmission of results and that political parties found to be violating electoral timelines, as well as provisions of the new Electoral Act 2022 (as amended), especially during the 2023 elections, would be punished.Okoye explained that the commission had taken lessons from the just concluded off-season Ekiti and Osun governorship elections and would improve on its strategies in conducting elections in 2023.
He said, “I want to seize this opportunity to assure Nigerians that this present commission will be bold and courageous in prosecuting the 2023 general elections.“We are going to harvest and we will continue to harvest lessons from the Edo governorship election, Ondo governorship election, Anambra governorship election, and Ekiti and Osun governorship elections in shaping the way we approach the 2023 general election.
“We are going to harvest all the good practices; we are also going to look at some of those issues we did not do so well and we will improve on them.“But our assurance is that this commission will not lower the bar and we are going to improve and will continue to improve with every election.
“All the good practices we deployed in prosecuting the elections under review will also be deployed for the prosecution of the 2023 general election.“This commission will continue to upload polling unit results to our INEC results viewing portal; this commission will not depart from it.“The Nigerian people will be involved at every inch of the process in terms of knowing what is going on at the various polling units through our processes and procedures.
We will continue to also manage the collation process transparently so that all Nigerians will also follow whatever we are doing and we will not depart from all the good practices we have established.”
While seeking the cooperation of Nigerians, Okoye advised civil society organisations and other critical stakeholders to study the Electoral Act 2022 in order to gain needed knowledge of its provisions.“There are creative and innovative provisions that have been imputed into the Electoral Act 2022 that have changed the framework and dynamics of election management and result management in Nigeria.
Yiaga Africa adds in the report: “Be that as it may, there were cases of ballot box snatching, violence, and disruption of voting and result collation by thugs and hoodlums linked to political parties.
“The national assembly should expedite actions to pass the National Electoral Offences Commission Bill. This will enable effective arrest and prosecution of violators of the electoral laws before, during and after the elections.
“INEC needs to revisit voter allocation to polling units, especially for the newly created polling units to ensure equitable distribution of voters, which will reduce congestion and ease election day administration for the commission.
“Where the commission assigns polling units to voters, it should update the voter records on its website and communicate the changes to prevent voter disenfranchisement, especially to voters who have been assigned to new polling units.”