The Election Situation Room of the Network for Democracy and Development (NDD), a Muslim civil society group, has expressed shock and disappoint at the postponement of the general elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
NDD said that there is no doubt that the postponement of the elections few hours to the presidential and national assembly polls caught Nigerians unawares, stressing that it was indeed an anti-climax to a process that had enjoyed broad support from stakeholders from all sections of the country and heightened people’s hope of a positive milestone.
“In addition to the negative effects that this postponement has on the country’s image within the international community, the social, economic, political and emotional costs of the postponement are enormous. It was worrisome that the leadership of INEC had to wait until final hours before realising its inadequacies and the imperative of a shift in the dates of the elections.”
NDD Election Situation Room said it has taken time to analyse INEC’s excuses for the postponement and reached the conclusion that the electoral management body should have done better in discharging this important national assignment.
“There is no doubt that the postponement has thrown up a number of critical issues. We are worried that an institution at the level of INEC with rich historical antecedence could still worry about such matter as logistics which is critical to its success and which should have become routinised. We are worried that the Commission took Nigerians for granted. We believe that the national embarrassment that this action of INEC has caused was avoidable.
“We vehemently condemn the discomfort that corps members and other ad-hoc staff during the rescheduled elections passed through. Information in the public domain indicates that members of the ad-hoc staff had to pass the night before the Election Day in harrowing conditions. Neither their welfare nor security was taken care of. This, to say the least, is unacceptable.
“We, therefore, call on the leadership of INEC to, as a matter of urgency, review the welfare plan for the corps members and other ad-hoc staff. It is important that INEC appreciates the fact that for us to have decent elections, the ad-hoc staff who constitute the bulk of the electoral officials, must be treated decently as poor welfare may make them vulnerable to manipulation by politicians.
“We are equally concerned about reports of compromise of the process and security breach in several States. Perhaps the postponement was God’s design to expose those electoral ills that could have constituted a huge albatross to the process. In as much as we want to regard those sad developments as isolated cases, we, nonetheless, want to appeal to INEC and the security agencies to further scrutinise and sanitise the process in order to strengthen its integrity. We need to reiterate that Nigerians deserve peaceful and credible elections.
“Going forward, we call on INEC to work in concert with other stakeholders to ensure that necessary provisions will be made in our laws to allow citizens to exercise their voting right wherever they reside at any given time. This will greatly reduce the difficulties that many Nigerians go through during election periods. We believe that this is no longer a difficult thing to do given the advances in technology.”
NDD appealed to INEC and other critical stakeholders, especially the electorate, not to be demoralised by this temporary setback. “We should rather see it as an opportunity to make the electoral process whole again. The next few days are more than enough for all of us to make a big difference. No sacrifice can be too much for us to take Nigeria to greater heights.”