The ECOWAS Fact-Finding Mission for Nigerian Elections says the independent national electoral commission (INEC), cannot achieve free and fair elections without collaboration with relevant stakeholders.
The head of the mission and former Chairman of the Electoral Commission of Ghana, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan made the assertion during an interactive session with Civil Society Organisations and the media in Kano.
According to him, the 2023 general elections remains important to the African continent and beyond, hence the need for stakeholders to play roles to achieve democratic expectations.
He explained that the delegation had been talking with INEC, security agencies and other stakeholders, and the mission had visited various zones in Nigeria to hear from the stakeholders.
The head of the mission however stressed that, the electoral commission is not a kingmaker but rather an important element to the actualization of free and fair elections in collaboration with eligible voters, political parties/candidates and all relevant stakeholders.
Dr. Kwadwo described civil societies as groups that work for the benefit of societies as such they have a critical role to play in the electoral process to achieve the desired objectives.
He charged civil society organizations to work in collaboration not in competition, as there’s strength in coming to work together to achieve succeess.
“These elections are going to be very important not only for Nigeria but for all of us in Africa and even beyond Africa. We dare not fail. To fail is going to spell doom far beyond Nigeria. That is how critical these elections are”
Responding some of the participants Abubakar Abdulqadir DanGambo,Jamila Musa, Abdulgafar Oladimeji and Zainab Ahmed decried disenfranchisement characterized by intimidation, thuggery ,vote buying, hate speech and recruitment of unprofessionals as spokesperson’s for politicians.
They noted that, neutrality of security agencies, collaboration among different CSOs, training and retraining of media personnel , politicians and other relevant stakeholders on rules guiding electoral process, would go a long way in ensuring free and fair elections.
The interactive session organized by the ECOWAS fact finding mission for Nigerian election with CSOs and media in Kano witnessed large turn out of civil society organizations,media and relevant stakeholders in the electoral process.
Reporting by Khadijah Aliyu; Editing by Chinasa Ossai & Daniel Adejo