Some Independent Foreign Observers have commended the Nigerian Military for their professional conduct during the Saturday’s Presidential and National Assembly elections.
The observers in the statement signed by Bill Campbell added that having examined the roles of stakeholders in the electoral processes found out that military played a commendable roles in the Saturday’s elections.
They said, “The Independent Foreign Observers is an amalgamation of organizations drawn from all over the world to monitor the general elections in Nigeria on the invitation of a select Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in Nigeria. Consequently, the head of the mission, Bill Campbell deployed election observers around Nigeria with a view to ascertaining the credibility of the elections and the role of the various actors in the electoral process.
The Independent Foreign Observers was headed by Bill Campbell, a diplomat, and conflict resolution expert who has garnered years of experience in election monitoring in African countries. Bill Campbell’s experience spans 6 continents and over 50 countries, where he has experienced dozens of elections and other less conventional changes of government. He has braved tsunamis, typhoons, earthquakes, political revolutions and long treks on public transportation, to learn about and observe democracy in action. A graduate of NYU, Bill has been the President of his Rotary Club, constantly looking for ways to serve communities big and small. He brought his wealth of experience to bear in the monitoring of the general elections in Nigeria.
As part of its mandate to monitor and report the credibility of the general elections in Nigeria, the Independent Foreign Observers undertook a systematic survey of the dynamics inherent in the Nigeria society and consequently designed a template that accommodated the religious and ethnic sensitivity of the Nigerian people in various states of the federation with a view to getting the objective responses from the electorate as the case may be. The essence was to help observe the dynamics, make recommendations and commendations where necessary based on the competence of the team.
It was observed amongst other things some section of the country whipped up ethnic sentiments which could undermine the electoral process.
Some segment of the populace also played the religious card before the electorates in an attempt to induce or coerce votes for their political parties.
Consequently, there was palpable tension in the polity as regards the security of lives and properties.
The government, therefore, deployed a mix of security agencies to maintain the sanctity of the electoral process as well as maintaining law and order throughout the polls.
Elections were conducted in the 36 states in Nigeria including the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Our team of observers were on ground to monitor the polls and turned in a detailed report on what they observed in the various states that they were deployed.
The Independent Foreign Observers worked in active collaboration with local NGOs in the various states, and this unique collaboration made the election monitoring exercise seamless and worthwhile.
It was observed that there was a huge voters’ turnout in parts of the country especially in Northern Nigeria. (North East and North West)
The voters defied the harsh climatic conditions to come out in their numbers to cast their votes at the various polling units
The South Eastern States also witnessed a large turnout of voters (Enugu, Anambra, Ebonyi, and Imo)
The South Western States didn’t experience as much voters’ turnout as in other parts of the country. This was primarily due to a palpable tension because political analysts had classified the South Western states as the battleground for candidates of both parties.
The South-South states of Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Cross River also witnessed a large turnout of voters.
From monitoring the elections, it was observed that the electoral process was able to maintain its credibility by the combined efforts of the security agencies led by the Nigerian Army that ensured that incidences of ballot box snatching and other electoral vices were curtailed.
Voters exercised their electoral franchise without fear especially in the northern part of the country. Our team of observers noted that in the Northern parts of the country, which hitherto was known for underage voting did not experience cases of underage voting. Incidences of vote buying were also prevalent in most parts of the South-South and South Eastern States.
The outbreak of Violence:
Our team of observers witnessed pockets of violence in some parts of the country occasioned by attempts by party agents to snatch ballot boxes. This resulted in an open confrontation with the security agencies who showed resilience in the face of provocation.
Rivers States witnessed the highest level of violence and arms bearing by political thugs that led to the death of an INEC official, an officer of the Nigerian Army and scores of people.
The Election and the Nigerian Military:
Our team of observers noted the contributions of the Nigeria Army in maintaining the credibility of the electoral process. The Nigeria Army was able to provide security of lives and properties throughout the election process.
In the North Eastern states of Yobe and Borno, the Nigeria Army provided watertight security, and this accounted for the large turnout of voters in the region.
In the fringes where it was expected that there would be security lapses, the Nigeria Army rose to the occasion as there were no recorded cases of security lapses by our team of observers.
The Independent Foreign Observers salutes the resilience and courage of the Nigerian people through the duration of the elections.
The elections were conducted in an atmosphere of peace brought about by the combined efforts of the security agencies.
Cases of electoral violence were minimal but for a few states
The Nigerian Army rose to the occasion by deploying men and resources around the country to protect the credibility of the process
The Nigeria Army conducted itself professionally and within the ambit of the law even in instances of provocation as experienced in some states.
The Independent Foreign Observers particularly singles out the Nigeria Army for praise in its conduct during the elections. We noted a display of a high sense of professionalism even in the face of provocation by agents of political parties.
The Independent Foreign Observers also commends the leadership of the Nigeria Army for the high-level coordination of its troops across the country. The Independent also charges the Nigeria Army to deploy the same strategy in the forthcoming gubernatorial and states houses of assembly elections.