CSOs Faults 2023 Presidential Election as Lacking Transparency

In the just concluded election that Ashiwaju Ahmed Tinubu of All Progressives Congress (APC), was declared winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room on the 2023 Presidential and National Assembly elections alleged on Wednesday that the entire process “cannot be considered to have been credible”, citing a number of reasons including the INEC’s failure to upload results electronically.

The situation room is made up of over 70 CSOs including Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), CLEEN Foundation, Action Aid Nigeria, Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CDD).

Recall that INEC had on Tuesday declared Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress, winner of the presidential election with 8,805,835 votes.

But international observers like the European Union said there was lack of transparency on the part of INEC, adding that the failure of the Bimodal Verification Accreditation System, BVAS, to immediately upload results, raised concerns on the polls.

On Wednesday, the Convener of the CSO’s situation room, Ene Obi said at Transcorp Hilton, Abuja that its observation and analysis of the 2023 Presidential and National Assembly elections indicates that it allegedly fell short of “the credibility threshold.”

The yardstick CSOs used in arriving at its decision are the reform of the electoral legal framework, efficient and accountable election management, and effective monitoring of political parties and the campaign process.

Obi held that there can be no trust in the election results when collation was not transparent going by INEC’s promise to transmit results electronically.

The CSOs added that violence marred the polls and disenfranchised Nigerians.

“The Situation Room expected that the innovative reforms introduced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), 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, accurate and transparent results collation, and effective violence mitigation.

“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,” the Obi said on behalf of the CSOs.

Listing out its demands, the CSOs urged INEC to restore public trust on its credibility by explaining in details how results where collated as well as why the electronic transmission of results failed.

It also urged Nigerians to remain law abiding while political parties were advised to go to court.

The statement partly reads, “In the light of the shortcomings outlined in this interim statement, the Situation Room calls on INEC to provide details of the process leading up to the results it collated for the elections.

“Situation Room demands that INEC provides information on why its promise to improve the transparency of the collation process through the introduction of the iReV Portal performed below expectation.

“Situation Room further demands that INEC conducts an audit of polling units where elections did not take place to establish the reasons for the failure.

“Situation Room also calls on INEC to 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.

“Situation Room calls on all political parties and aggrieved parties to pursue well established constitutional and legal remedies available to them and go through the democratic process of the courts.

“We call on Nigerians to remain calm and express their displeasure, if need be, through a peaceful and democratic way.

“Finally, Situation Room commends Nigerians for the increased turnout recorded during the voting and calls for restraints even in the light of INEC’s failings.”


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