#NigeriaDecides2023: International Observer Groups Slam INEC, Says Performance Below Expectation
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has again come under fire over the conduct of Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly elections.
Naija News reports that the latest on the list of critics are some international observer groups who were present across the federation to monitor the polls.
It was gathered that the International Republican Institute (IRI) and National Democratic Institute (NDI) Joint Election Observation Mission (IEOM) have expressed their disappointment in the commission, saying the performance was below the expectation of Nigerians.
The NDI/IRI 40-member joint IEOM was deployed across all six geopolitical regions of the country and observed all stages of the voting process.
According to them, INEC fell short of expectations despite the 2022 electoral reforms characterised by the new act.
The Joint Election Observation Mission, which was led by the former president of Malawi, Dr Joyce Banda, said logistic challenges and multiple incidents of political violence overshadowed the electoral process.
Banda submitted that “Despite large crowds in some polling stations and long waits, Nigerian voters demonstrated commitment to participate in the process and a strong desire to have their voices heard.
“We congratulate the people of Nigeria for their resilience and enthusiasm to participate in the process.”
In their observations that have informed preliminary findings, 27 practical recommendations were given for better elections in the future.
The delegation revealed that it observed that late opening of polling locations and logistical failures created tensions, noting that the secrecy of the ballot was compromised in some polling units given overcrowding.
The group said, “The mission notes that despite the much-needed reforms to the Electoral Act 2022, the election fell well short of Nigerian citizens’ reasonable expectations.
“Logistical challenges and multiple incidents of political violence overshadowed the electoral process and impeded a substantial number of voters from participating.
“Ongoing currency and fuel shortages also imposed excessive burdens on voters and election officials, and Nigerian marginalised groups, especially women, continue to face barriers to seeking and obtaining political office.
“At the close of the polls, challenges with the electronic transfer of results and their upload to a public portal in a timely manner undermined citizens’ confidence at a crucial moment of the process.
“Moreover, inadequate communication and lack of transparency by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) about their cause and extent created confusion and eroded voters’ trust in the process.”
The delegation submitted that the combined effect of these problems disenfranchised Nigerian voters in many areas, adding that although the scope and scale are currently unknown.
“Despite these issues, Nigerians once again demonstrated their commitment to the democratic process.
“Voters displayed extraordinary resilience and resolve to have their voices heard through the ballot, and INEC administered a nationwide election according to the electoral calendar for the first time in the country’s recent history”, they added.
Also, political actors and their supporters were also admonished by the delegation to remain calm and exercise restraint as the nation awaits the results of the February 25 polls and the Nigerian people prepare for upcoming gubernatorial elections.
The mission encouraged INEC, the government, political actors and civil society to redouble their efforts to deliver on citizens’ expectations for transparent and inclusive elections and to ensure that electoral outcomes are a credible expression of voters’ will.
They noted that “IRI and NDI will continue to watch the remaining phases of the electoral process, including the announcement of official results and swearing in of newly-elected officials.
“The delegation’s work was possible thanks to support from USAID.”
The groups expressed their appreciation for the hospitality and cooperation they received from all Nigerians with whom they met.