75 Political parties yesterday passed a confidence vote on the National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, saying the 2019 general elections met the expectation of majority of Nigerians.
Chairmen of the parties who spoke at a 2-day Roundtable on the evaluation of the last polls in Abuja, however blamed operatives of security agencies, particularly the military and the police for whatever shortcomings that may have been witnessed in the election, even as they called on President Muhammadu Buhari to speedily sign the Electoral Ammendment bill into law, to safe the country from the challenges associated with the current electoral law.
The National Roundtable with the theme: “The role and Performances of Stakeholders in the 2019 General elections, issues, challenges and prospects”, drew together political stakeholders, including members of the civil society organisations (CSOs) .
The event which was graced by immediate past Vice President of Sierra Leone, Alhaji Sam Sumana, and chaired by Prof. Remi Aiyede, took place place at International Conference Centre.
In her address, the Acting Executive Director, Centre for Transparent Advocacy (CTA ), co- organisers of the event, Faith Nwadishi, stated that INEC as the umpire of the general elections proved quite independent in the way and manner it responded to the unexpected challenges thrown its way by the stakeholders in the process and other unforeseen circumstances during the last general election”.
“Of note is how it bravely prevented the ruling party from fielding candidates in Zamfara in its determination to follow the rules no matter whose ox is gored. More crucially, on the ground, during election and voting day, it refused to be intimidated by threats and violence unleashed on its officials and ad-hoc staff leading to some certificates of return being withheld by INEC though this is now subject to litigations”.
While speaking further, she also urged the political class to “take internal democracy seriously”.
In a communique issued at the end of the well attended conference, the Chairmen explained that the decision to commend the INEC Chairman was anchored on his commitment to ensure that things were done in a transparent manner.
“The Roundtable after a comprehensive review of the conduct of the 2019 general elections passes a vote of confidence on the National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof. Mahmood Yakubu for the successful conduct of the election, and notes with satisfaction the transparency in communication and regular engagement of stakeholders at the National, State and Local Government levels which ensured that everybody was carried along in the process.
“The Roundtable indicts the security agencies for the lapses in the election due largely to their collusion with unscrupulous politicians and negligence to do their jobs”, it quoted.
On some of the challenges encountered during the election, the Roundtable deplored role played the military and some other security agents as well as activities of thugs who they said were used by desperate politicians.
“The Roundtable condemned the hypocrisy of the leadership of the security agencies that manifested in the partisan deployment of police and security personnel to polling station/voting point, and also condemned the unprofessional conducts of security agents”.
The participants however, made far reaching recommendations on how to improve electoral system ahead of subsequent elections.
According to them, President Buhari should as a matter of urgency, when represented by the National Assembly, sign it into law.
“The Roundtable calls on President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the Electoral Amendment Bill into law when re-presented to him by the National Assembly to save the country from the problems associated with the extent law”, it quoted.
The participants recommended that presidential, national assembly, governorship as well as state house of assembly elections be held the same day, to address the challenge of voter apathy after first election.
“In order to address dwindling turnout of voters after the first election and increase the zeal to elect credible leaders The Roundtable recommends the conduct of the three principal elections, viz; Presidential/National Assembly election, Governorship/State Assembly elections and Chairmanship/Councillorship elections on the same day. This will save cost, ensure emergence of quality leadership, the integrity of the ballot, large voter turnout and guarantee improved security on election day.”
The Roundtable called for the scrapping of ad-hoc arrangement by the electoral body in the conduct of elections, just as it recommended that dates for possible run-off, rerun or inconclusive poll should be made known while scheduling election time table.
“INEC should strengthen the capacity of its polling staff through training and retraining particularly on the handling of the card readers, assisting voters as well as other electoral procedures to ensure transparency and credibility during future elections.
“INEC should consider, recruiting permanent staff whose schedule should be collation of results, train them thoroughly for the assignment to save the nation the embarrassment of adhoc collation officers.
“Efforts must be intensified to ensure proper coordination of Inter Agency Committee on Election Security (ICES) and the non-partisan deployment of security personnel to all the polling units to ensure peaceful conduct of polls.
“The Roundtable calls on the National Assembly should immediately re-present to President Muhammadu Buhari the amended electoral and calls on President Muhammadu Buhari to do the needful to ensure that the amended Electoral Bill is signed into law.