The 2023 General Election draws to a close today with the conduct of the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly election. Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has announced that the gubernatorial election will take place in 28 out of the 36 states of the federation. However, some states will not participate in the electoral process as a result of court rulings that have affected their participation in the four-year general election cycle.
The states of Imo, Kogi and Bayelsa will hold their governorship election later in the year, while Edo, Ondo, Ekiti, Osun and Anambra have held theirs in previous years at different times. These aforementioned states will only conduct the state houses of assembly election today.
INEC has reiterated its readiness for seamless conduct of the election as scheduled and also informed Nigerians that it will conduct the rescheduled National Assembly elections in Enugu and Edo States on the same day. For a resounding success of Saturday’s election, all stakeholders must redouble their efforts to discharge their duties creditably and live up to the expectations of Nigerians.
To achieve this, INEC must ensure that the voter register in each polling unit is displayed a day before the election or as early as possible on the day of the election to enable voters to confirm their names on time. Also, INEC must ensure the early arrival of election materials to each polling unit in the 774 Local Government Areas.
Dent on the commitment of citizens
It is a national insult and a dent on the commitment of citizens to exercising their franchise when voters, who arrive at their polling units as early as 6am, do not see INEC ad-hoc staff till around 1pm, as was witnessed in the last election. Hence, INEC must ensure early deployment of ad-hoc staff to polling units to forestall such delays.
Importantly, INEC must not give any excuse whatsoever for not uploading the results of the governorship and state houses of assembly election in the polling unit as captured in the Bimodal Accreditation and Verification System (BVAS), forwarding the result to the INEC server, and pasting the election result in the polling unit for everyone to see as stipulated by the 2022 Electoral Act.
Another area that requires attention is the security of polling units. It is a national shame and an embarrassment for security agents to tolerate electoral violence being perpetrated by armed political thugs during elections in 21st-century Nigeria. Security agents must know that the incidence of ballot box snatching and killings recorded in some states during the presidential and the national assembly election is a social stigma and image burden on the country that will take a long time for Nigeria to recover from. It is high time more drastic measures were taken to deal decisively with politicians involved in sponsoring political thugs.
For voters who yearn for purposeful leadership that will positively impact the generality of citizens, they must turn out en-mass, be resilient, and cast their votes. It is a critical investment to secure the future of their states. The electorate must also ensure that their votes are counted in their respective polling units and bear in mind that if they do not vote, they are ignoring history and giving away the future.
Finally, we urge all Nigerians to support INEC in its efforts to ensure a free, fair, and credible electoral process by adhering to electoral guidelines, being peaceful and orderly at polling units, and reporting any form of electoral malpractice.
Writing by Joseph Agi, of our current affairs unit; Editing by Saadatu Albashir