By Luminous Jannamike, Abuja

CHRISTIAN and Muslim clerics, under the aegis of Interfaith Dialogue Forum for Peace, IDFP, has raised concerns over the proposed use of Bimodal Voter Accreditation System for the 2023 general election.

They made their reservation known in a communique issued at the end of a two-day sensitisation and capacity strengthening workshop for religious leaders, civil society organisations and policymakers towards peaceful 2023 general elections held in Abuja on Thursday.

According to the Forum, low awareness about BVAS and fear for its efficacy in areas of low internet coverage could compromise voters’ data and election results.

The workshop initiated by the IDFP and supported by KAICIID Dialogue Centre had representation from the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR), the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), National Council of Muslim Youth Organizations (NACOMYO), Youth Wing Christian Association of Nigeria (YOWICAN), Federation of Muslims Women Association in Nigeria (FOMWAN), Women Wing Christian Association of Nigeria (WOWICAN), amongst others.

Reading the communique of the workshop before journalists, the co-Chairman of IDFP, Alhaji Sanni Kunle, sought the commitment of all stakeholders in the electoral process to ensure peaceful, credible and transparent elections.

He said, “We call on INEC to conduct adequate training on the use of the BVAS by their personnel including providing adequate internet facility to ensure uninterrupted connection to the server. Additionally, provide prompt alternatives to faulty BVAS where necessary.

“We also call for effective collaboration among all critical stakeholders before, during and after the elections with regards to planning, deployments, voter education, monitoring and information sharing.”

The Forum also called for diaspora voting; noting that over 17 million Nigerians in diaspora are without voting rights despite contributing over $20 billion to the economy in 2021 even above the country’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

According to the IDFP, “This staggering number and contribution of the Nigerian diaspora community should necessitate the review of the Electoral Act to consider diaspora voting in the near future. We, therefore, recommend that future amendments to the electoral laws should give Nigerians in the diaspora the right to vote.”

Other areas of concern the clerics raised ahead of the 2023 general elections include; the rising incidences of divisive political campaigns, multiple and underage voter registration, and hate speeches amongst others.


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