Civil society groups in Nigeria has called on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to immediately provide clear explanation to Nigerians on what warranted postponement of the general elections.
Converging on the auspices of Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, Convener of the coalition, Mr Clement Nwankwo, made the call while reacting to INEC’s postponement of Saturday and March 2 elections, on Saturday in Abuja.
Nwankwo expressed disappointment and shock at the development in spite of the assurances by INEC that everything was ready for the elections.
“This development casts a cloud of doubt on INEC’s credibility and competence in conducting the election as it has created needless tension and confusion in the country.
“INEC has a duty to be honest and transparent with Nigerians in the conduct of elections, and that duty of honesty has been fundamentally breached.
“The Situation Room calls on INEC to immediately provide clear explanation to Nigerians and stakeholders on what went wrong and steps to be taken to ensure that this does not happen again.
“INEC must inform Nigerians what steps it is taking to hold persons responsible for this fiasco to account,’’ he said.
According to Nwankwo, INEC has an onerous task of reassuring Nigerians in the light of these unfortunate events, especially with respect to transparency of polls, on collation of ballots and enforcement of rules.
He said that the Commission needed to explain to Nigerians how it would be able to address the extra financial and logistics burden that the rescheduling of the elections had occasioned.
He also charged INEC to explain the management and integrity of already distributed materials, saying that it was key in the issues.
Nwankwo said that there was no doubt that the postponement had imposed unforeseen financial and logistics burden on political parties, candidates, businesses and indeed, Nigerians.
“We sympathise with Nigerians and urge restraints in the face of this sad postponement.
“We particularly call on political parties and candidates for election, to put Nigeria first and ensure that every grievance is channelled through appropriate quarters,’’ he said.
The convener pointed out that in periods of national uncertainties, fake news and hate speech could be destabilizing, and urged stakeholders to refrain from misinformation and inciting comments capable of undermining peace and security.
He also called on security agencies to remain professional and neutral “as the nation collectively confronts this challenge’’.
On her part, the Director, Watching the Vote, YIAGA AFRICA, Ms Cynthia Mbamalu, condemned the treatment of National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members recruited for the elections.
Mbamalu said that the reports of the young men and women sleeping in open fields without any arrangement for their security and safety was disappointing and inhumane.
She said that resources were sent to states for the welfare of the corps members, but that the condition they were in did not reflect the money sent.
She, therefore, urged INEC to use the postponement period for better preparations.
Mbamalu called on Nigerians not to relent nor be frustrated but they should channel that anger to come out enmasse on Saturday to vote.
reports have it that the Situation Room promised to closely monitor the process and take needed step to support the conduct of credible elections in Nigeria.
“There is no alternative to democratic elections and we will continue to work towards successful elections in the country. Nigerians should not give up.’’