Barely six weeks after the general elections, the Center for Transparency Advocacy (CTA) has released it observations, even as it rated high the performance of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) under Prof. Yakubu Mahmoud.
Releasing the report Monday in Abuja, Acting Executive Director of CTA, Ms Faith Nwadishi, said the electoral empire “committed itself totally to the rule of law and went about the business of organising a free and fair general election methodically.”
CTA who deployed about one thousand observers nationwide during the poll, also commended the security services fir helping with maintaining law and order during the elections.
The event which had several other civil society organisations, senior media executive and some of the election observers in attendance, specifically commended the INEC boss for his “open door policy and by constantly engaging with all stakeholders from the very beginning and through every stage of the preparations for the 2019 election.”
According to Nwadishi, one of the most remarkable themes of the past four years of INEC under Professor Yakubu has been how it has tried to show its independence in the way and manner it goes about exercising its mandate, despite the intense pressure from the political class.
“For the first time, the ruling party was prevented from presenting candidates for election in Zamfara and Rivers State because INEC insisted on following the rules. Indeed, its actions were upheld by the courts, even at the highest judicial level by the Supreme Court.
“The Independent National Electoral Commission under the leadership of Professor Mamhood Yakubu took the task of conducting elections seriously and, along with his team, he showed quite early that INEC was determined to answer only to Nigerians and no one else.
“INEC committed itself totally to the rule of law and went about the business of organising a free and fair general election methodically. All the off-season elections organised in the states concerned proved remarkably better than those contested before then, which gave the people great hope that the 2019 general election was going to be free and fair. Professor Yakubu repeated his determination to ensure such an outcome at every opportunity.
“To this end, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) released the timetable for the 2019 general election one full year to the election. The idea was to give political parties, citizens and all stakeholders time to prepare for the election, including enough time for all contentious issues to be addressed.
“Also, one outstanding thing those of us who are observers witnessed with the new INEC was its relentless attempt to reach out by keeping an open door policy and by constantly engaging with all stakeholders from the very beginning and through every stage of the preparations for the 2019 election.
“The Commission established well-developed and well-supervised standard protocols, business processes and rules for regularly cleaning up and updating registers of voters nationwide. It implemented the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise as stipulated in the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) to ensure that everyone who truly wants to vote gets to register. There was an extensive campaign nationwide to ensure that citizens took advantage of this programme to register for the election and collect the PVCs on time.”
In his remarks, the Chairman, Partners for Electoral Reform (PER), Ezenwa Nwagwu, who blamed ignorance and mischief in the part of some citizens and political actors for the misgiving against the INEC, said elections are guided by electoral Act, Guideline and constitution and not the social media.
He said: “If you look at the results of these elections, I tell people who are saying the vote did not count to go to Akwa Ibom and tell the people who voted out Sen. Akpabio after he joined APC that their votes did not count. Go to Oyo state and tell the people who voted out the ruling party and voted in Seyi Makinde of PDP that their vote did not count or you go to Imo state where people voted for Emeka of the PDP that their vote did not count.”
While presenting copies of the report to the public, Director Inter-Campus activities, Osun state University, Prof. Anthony Kola-Olusanya, said the just concluded elections were remarkable because “its a one that celebrate 20 years of unbroken democratic process in the country.
“Before the election, apart from time table released a year before the elections, there were also several stakeholders’ meetings to ensure that a large number of citizens participate in the process.
“About 84m Nigerians collected their PVCs which is the largest and the best in the history of Nigeria. Although their can be improvement. Out of the 84m viters who collected the PVC, only 25% voted. It is a voters apathy.”