The Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civic Education (CHRICED) firstly salutes millions of Nigerians who defied the odds to participate in Saturday’s Presidential and National Assembly elections.
This was contained in a statement on Tuesday by the Executive Director of CHRICED, Comrade Dr. Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi.
According to Comrade Dr. Zikkirullahi, in many polling units, voters spent sleepless nights, just as they waited in long queues to exercise their franchise. While the Nigerian people remained enthusiastic about exercising their democratic rights through the ballot, the lapses and failures exhibited by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the security agencies undermined the efforts and participation of the electorate.
“Apart from the late or non-arrival of voting materials, the challenges encountered in uploading polling unit results by poll officials negatively impacted the transparency of the process.
“With the level of goodwill and support, Nigeria received from the international community in the build-up to these elections, it is utterly embarrassing that INEC would put up such a dismal showing in terms of its management of the electoral process.
“While it is common knowledge that INEC does not have control over some of the variables critical to logistics deployment, it is important to note that the Commission had four years to plan for these elections and should have found a more effective logistics alternative to its current system, which has repeatedly failed in previous elections.
“One of the weak links in the logistic chain is the Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) in the States. In the build-up to the elections, CHRICED had identified the INEC State offices as weak links in the conduct of the polls.
“We have always known that while the INEC leadership in Abuja may have put in place effective plans, those plans are usually undermined by the State offices. INEC State Offices run by their Resident Electoral Commissioners need must be held accountable for the dismal performance of the Commission.”
He also said in the lead-up to the elections, CHRICED called for reorganization/reshuffling of the State RECs to ensure that their actions or inactions do not undermine the integrity of the elections.
Comrade Dr. Zikirullahi noted that the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections are scheduled for March 11, 2023.
“CHRICED urges INEC Chairman Professor Mahmood Yakubu to immediately reshuffle the RECs, particularly in states that experienced the most logistical and procedural lapses during the Presidential and National Assembly elections.
“CHRICED similarly calls on stakeholders in the electoral process to beam the spotlight on respective RECs to ensure they are also accountable for administrative issues, which affect the electoral process in their respective states. In the area of election security, CHRICED calls on the Police to thoroughly investigate and bring to justice all the criminal elements who were involved in the incidents, which marred elections in Edo, Lagos, Rivers, and any other state in the country,” stressing that it is crucial also that security agencies apprehend not only the thugs, but those who sponsored them to undermine the electoral process and the sanctity of the ballot.
“Concerning the Naira redesign policy and fuel scarcity, which resulted in the disenfranchisement of many voters who were unable to afford transportation to the polls, CHRICED urges the government to ease the restrictions.
“Numerous Nigerians, particularly the poor and vulnerable, continue to endure the harsh effects of the Naira and fuel scarcity. Now is the time for the government to alleviate the suffering of citizens across the nation,” he added.