A Coalition of Political Leaders for Electoral Reforms- G-17- has demanded urgent reforms in the Nigerian electoral processes before the 2023 general election.
The group comprising leaders of some of the registered political parties that participated in the 2019 general election it described the 2019 general election as the worst in the history of elections in Nigeria.
The group said the current electoral system needs urgent reforms adding that it was inhibiting the growth of democracy in the country.
Though the G-17 thumbed up for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) saying it did a good job using a system not conducive for smooth election, the group slammed politicians and political parties for adopting unconventional tactics in their desperation to win elections.
“The 2019 general election was the worst ever in the history of Nigeria electoral process, not wholly for the lack of preparedness on the part of the INEC or compromised of some of its key staff and officers but merely on the aggressive, selfish ambition and desperation of leading political party leaders, their candidates and political elites to win at all cost.
“Existing laws and electoral guidelines are crippling our democratic norms and produced voter apathy, mistrust of our political leaders”, a statement signed by the chairman Dr Onwubuya John Breakforth said.
The Group-17 said the 2019 general election was characterised by vote-buying, militarization and intimidation of electorate a development it said resulted to electorate’s lack of confidence in the electoral process.
“Massive deployment of money used in inducing voters and purchasing votes at most polling units across the country by agents of the major political parties to the extent that there was a bargaining between the voters and agents of the candidates, who finally goes for the higher bidders.
“Massive deployment of thugs, who dressed in both army and police uniforms, eventually aided in ballot box snatching, illegal thumb-printing of ballot papers, forcefully compelling INEC returning officers to announced altered or fake results at gun point like the case of Owerri Central senatorial saga.
“The election was compromised by majority of the men and officers of Nigeria Police Force deployed to protect the sanity of the election.
“The process was compromised by some INEC officers, and ad hoc staff at various polling units and electoral wards due to forceful inducement and threats to life by political elites and their candidates.
“Unprecedented violence resulting to shootings, killings, disruption of elections and illegal printing of fake ballot papers that led to cancellation of elections in some local government areas in various states.
“The 2019 general election was full of terrible malpractices, fraud and misgivings contrary to the electoral guidelines as released by INEC.”
The Coalition of Political Leaders for Electoral Reforms said its members would aggressively advocates comprehensive reforms of the country’s electoral system, saying such reforms remains the only way to standardize Nigeria’s electoral process.