Ahead of next Saturday’s Presidential and National Assembly elections, an election observer group, Proactive Gender Initiative (PGI), has charged security agencies to remain apolitical and neutral in the discharge of their duties.
Speaking at a one-day training for election observers in Abuja, National Coordinator of the group Barr. Esther Uzoma said security was crucial to any election, adding that such agencies exist to serve Nigerians and not the chief executive officers.
Uzoma urged security agencies to be professional in tackling thuggery, voter-intimidation, and incidents involving use of weapons by hoodlums, to ensure a free, fair and transparent process.
“Security is critical to this election. We admonish them to be professional. They do not exist to serve the pleasure of the chief executive officers, they exist to serve Nigerians and to also participate in the process. Say no to intimidation, say no to thuggery. No weapons during elections,” she said.
The national coordinator also charged observers of the electoral process to ensure strict adherence to the electoral guidelines, 2019, as released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), stressing that the guidelines shed light on the procedure to be followed to ensure credible polls.
According to her, the training of observers was to increase citizenship involvement in the electoral process to validate it or condemn it if it doesn’t meet set standards.
“My charge to the electoral observers is, go to the field, remember what you were taught during training and implement it. Do not be disruptive. Do not wear any apparel that will show allegiance to any political party. Above all, be respectful and appear on time. Observe the process, make your report and send it appropriately. Do not fraternise on Election Day. Remember on that day that you are on duty.
“Citizens’ participation is an integral part of validating the elections. When the Nigerian citizens are made part and parcel of the whole process, they can say of themselves that INEC and the security agencies worked well because they were involved.
On the observation reports filed by the organisation and other groups over the years, she said the reports have constantly been reproduced in guidelines and regulations or as laws.
Uzoma clarified that observers are not involved in the writing of election results as they don’t care who wins or loses.
“We are concerned with the process, the protocol for elections. Once the processes are followed, then the result will be correct; it will be a credible election. We are here to ensure that the processes are followed,” she said.