March 17, 2023

Governorship polls: No excuse for INEC, says CDD

By Luminous Jannamike, Abuja 

THE Centre for Democracy and Development, CDD, has said the Independent National Electoral Commission has no excuse to give as far as the conduct of credible governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections is concerned.

This, it said, was because the electoral umpire has had sufficient time to address the logistical challenges and other flaws that dented the February 25, presidential election in the country.

CDD’s Executive Director, Idayat Hassan, made the remarks at a briefing to mark the opening of the organisations Election Analysis Centre in Abuja on Friday.

She added that since the polls had been delayed for a week to allow INEC reconfigure the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) devices while funds and materials needed for the smooth conduct of the elections had been made available, there should be no room for any excuse from the electoral body.

Hassan charged the electoral umpire to be on top of its game to ensure that the governorship and State legislative polls met the expectations of Nigerians.

She stressed, “Improved functionality will contribute to greater election results transparency, but this can still be undermined by compromised INEC officials and ad-hoc staff. 

“The suspension of the RECs for Abia and Sokoto states for ’endangering the electoral process’ is welcome but points to the prevailing challenge that INEC officials and ad-hoc staff can be subject to the whims and caprices of state governments in ways that negatively impact voter confidence and the election’s credibility.”

To ensure the breaches, which occurred during the presidential polls do not happen again, CDD also tasked INEC to reprimand and suspend those found to be colluding with political actors in their state, and support polling unit cancellations in such instances. 

“We encourage all ad-hoc INEC staff to abide by the Commission’s code of conduct when carrying out their duties on election day and when announcing results. 

“The prompt submission of polling unit results to IReV is critical and will support an improved perception of INECs performance. 

“We also urge the Commission to be both proactive and responsive in its communication with voters.” 

Speaking also, the Chairman of CDD’s Election Analysis Centre (EAC), Prof. Adele Jinadu, noted that there will be new governors in 17 states, regardless of the outcome of the polls due to term-limited incumbents who are ineligible to stand.

He, however, said that such keen contests are likely to be sites for election-violence. 

According to him, violence linked to the states elections could worsen due to the activities of armed groups and quasi-security outfits.

He explained, “The insecurity they create itself portends dangers for the ability to conduct credible elections, increases the likelihood of inconclusive results and, ultimately, the need for supplementary elections. Bauchi, Kano, Rivers, and Sokoto all faced this scenario in 2019, with a high risk of repeat in 2023.”