*says Electoral Act 2022 fell short of Nigerian’s reasonable expectations
The International Republican Institute (IRI) and National Democratic Institute (NDI) Joint Election Observation Mission (IEOM), led by Her Excellency Dr. Joyce Banda, former President of Malawi has scored the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) low, citing lack of transparency and challenges with electronic transfer of results and upload to the public portal, among others undermining confidence in the electoral process
in its interim report.
Consequently, the foreign observers says the Electoral Act 2022 fell short of Nigerian’s reasonable expectations.
The report stated 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.”
“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. Their observations informed preliminary findings and 27 practical recommendations to improve future elections.
“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 marginalized groups, especially women, continue to face barriers to seeking and obtaining political office.
“The delegation observed that late opening of polling locations and logistical failures created tensions and the secrecy of the ballot was compromised in some polling units given overcrowding.
“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 citizen confidence at a crucial moment of the process.
“Moreover, inadequate communication and lack of transparency by the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) about their cause and extent created confusion and eroded voters’ trust in the process.
“The combined effect of these problems disenfranchised Nigerian voters in many areas, although the scope and scale is 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.
“As the nation awaits the results of the February 25 polls and the Nigerian people prepare for upcoming gubernatorial elections, we urge political actors and their supporters to remain calm and exercise restraint.
“The mission encourages INEC, the government, political actors, and civil society to redouble their efforts to deliver on citizen expectations for transparent and inclusive elections, and to ensure that electoral outcomes are a credible expression of the voters’ will.
ALSO READ:U.S. Announces New Visa Regime For Nigerians
“The delegation is grateful for the hospitality and cooperation it received from all Nigerians with whom it met. 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.