From Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
Following the declaration of the Anambra governorship election as inconclusive, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has warned citizens of the state to be vigilant.
Briefing reporters in Abuja, CDD Election Analyst, Dr Sam Amadi, said the Anambra experience was an indication of the difficulties that will likely affect the conduct of the 2023 general elections with worsening insecurity in most parts of the country.
Amadi also said the limitations of the current democratic dispensation to cater to citizens’ socioeconomic wellbeing and safety drives apathy.
CDD further said persistent glitches with the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) have raised important questions about adapting technology to local environments.
CDD said its successful deployment in many areas demonstrates the lingering benefit of integrating technology to prevent electoral malpractice.
While saying that the late arrival of election materials and poll officials called for a review of the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) current logistics template, particularly under the prevailing insecure conditions, CDD stated that the pace of transmission of results to the INEC Results Viewing Portal (IREV) is comparatively slower than in previous elections.
‘On November 6, voters in Anambra State went to the polls to elect a governor. For the thousands of citizens who defied the odds to cast their ballots, it was clearly a display of the determination to perform their civic responsibility. This was in spite of the atmosphere of fear and uncertainty that persisted even after the last-minute announcement of the cancellation of the sit-at-home order by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). CDD commends the bravery and resilience of the thousands of voters who, in spite of the atmosphere of fear and uncertainty, exercised their democratic right to vote for a candidate of their choice. Sights of voters eager to participate in the election assure that even in adverse circumstances, Nigerians are determined to protect and promote democracy.
‘But as we have seen, the turnout in the 20 declared LGAs is disturbingly low (9.62 per cent). Of course, we know that this is compounded by the failure to hold an election in Ihiala LGA. In these circumstances, INEC has declared the election and postponed the election in Ihiala to Tuesday, November 9. How the supplementary election is handled will have significant implications, not only for Anambra but also for Nigeria’s democracy. While we await the conclusion of the process, there is a need to share lessons from the Anambra experience that we believe will help to safeguard our democracy.
‘In the wee hours of Monday 8th November, INEC announced that the election is inconclusive as voting did not take place in Ihiala LGA. The commission announced a supplementary election for November 9th in the LGA. CDD believes that the failure to conclude elections as scheduled has adverse implications on perceptions of the credibility of election outcomes. Therefore, INEC must do everything within its power to avoid a repeat. With 20 LGA results already declared, we call on all stakeholders to remain vigilant. We also call on the voters in Ihiala LGA to emulate their counterparts in the other 20 LGAs to peacefully exercise their democratic right to choose who becomes governor of the state. We would like to inform the public that supplementary elections are not out of place. The 2010 Electoral Act provides that where elections did not hold in areas where the registered number of voters is large enough to impact the final vote tallies between the projected winner and the first runner-up, INEC has a responsibility to organise a supplementary election,’ CDD said.
CDD further said the Anambra election has demonstrated how challenging conducting elections in a fragile security context can be.
It added that although the election was conducted as scheduled, there was little disagreement about the security threat under which it was held.
‘The militarisation of what ought to be a civic activity and the fears it generated among voters, and uncertainty among critical election stakeholders, including INEC and the electorate, show how worsening insecurity in the Southeast took a toll on the democratic process in Anambra. As we set sights on the 2023 General Elections which are less than two years away, CDD is concerned that if deliberate remedial action is not taken, elections may not hold in troubled parts of the country, particularly Northwest and Southeast Nigeria where non-state armed groups continue to enhance their capacity to threaten the state security,’ CDD also said.