The Evangelist News edition, February March 1, 2023. Adeze Ojukwu
About 70 Civil Society Groups(CSOs), Wednesday, said the 2023 Presidential and National Assembly elections, “fell short of the credibility threshold.”
Despite assurances from Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC), the elections they lamented “were marred by very poor organization, severe logistical and operational failure, lack of essential electoral transparency, substantial disruption of voting, and several incidents of violence.”
“As a result, the process cannot be considered to have been credible.”
They stated this in a statement, Ene Obi, signed by Ene Obi, Convener, Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room and Asma’u Joda, Co-Convener, Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room.
Meanwhile, the CSOs called on “all political parties and aggrieved parties to pursue constitutional and legal remedies available to them and go through the democratic process of the courts.”
They hailed Nigerians for their resilience, while appealing to aggrieved individuals “to remain calm and express their displeasure, if need be, through a peaceful and democratic way.”
The coalition also commended the electorate “for the increased turnout recorded, during the voting and calls for restraints even in the light of INEC’s failings.”
According to them INEC, should provide details of the process leading up to the results it collated for the elections, as well as, “information on why its promise to improve the transparency of the collation process through the introduction of the iReV Portal performed below expectation.”
They further demanded that “INEC conducts an audit of polling units where elections did not take place to establish the reasons for the failure.”
Also the coalition said the commission, should note that “public confidence in its capacity to run elections is gravely shaken, and that it would require extraordinary efforts for trust to be re-established.”
“The Situation Room, launched its Credibility Threshold for the 2023 General Election in December 2021, which was shared with Election Stakeholders, including the Commission.”
According to them, the Threshold document outlined twelve criteria as minimum requirements for evaluating the credibility of the elections.
They “expected that the innovative reforms introduced by the Commission, in furtherance of the new Electoral Act 2022, will lead to efficient and accountable election management, including improved access to polling units, hitch-free accreditation and voting.”
Also, INEC, they stressed “should have ensured accurate and transparent results collation as well as effective violence mitigation,” during the exercise.
“Contrary to the above expectations, the 2023 Presidential and National Assembly elections were marred by very poor organization, severe logistical and operational failure, lack of essential electoral transparency, substantial disruption of voting, and several incidents of violence. As a result, the process cannot be considered to have been credible.”
“Given the lack of transparency, particularly in the result collation process, there can be no confidence in the results of these elections. In addition, there was very poor communication from INEC on election day and on its challenges with its processes; its citizens contact numbers did not work and even when there were challenges with uploads to the INEC Results Viewing (iReV) Portal.”
“This is all the more disappointing since the elections were held in an atmosphere in which the people showed remarkable commitment to democracy, eagerly engaging in the electoral process and waiting patiently to vote in very difficult circumstances,” they added.
The Situation Room is made up of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) working in support of credible and transparent elections in Nigeria numbering more than seventy. The Steering Committee includes, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), CLEEN Foundation, Action Aid Nigeria, Centre for Women and Adolescent Empowerment, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), African Centre for Entrepreneurship and Information Development (ACEIDEV), Justice Development and Peace Commission (JPDC) Nnewi and ASPILOS Foundation.
Others were listed as Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC), Mac-Jim Foundation, Kimpact Development Initiative, Democratic Action Group (DAG), Women’s Rights to Education Programme, EDO CSOs, Young Innovators and Vocational Training Initiative (YVITI), New Initiative for Social Development (NISD). Other groups are Centre LSD, CISLAC, WARD-C, Proactive Gender Initiative (PGI), Enough is Enough Nigeria, WANGONET, JDPC, Yiaga Africa, Development Dynamics, Partners West Africa Nigeria (PWAN), Stakeholder Democracy Network, Human Rights Monitor, Reclaim Naija, CITAD, Conscience for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution (CHRCR,)Nigerian Women Trust Fund, The Albino Foundation, Emma Ezeazu Centre for Good Governance and Accountability (formerly Alliance for Credible Elections) and Electoral Hub,” among others.