INEC was commended for early distribution of materials and peaceful polls in a substantial number of units. Photo: Ogochukwu Okoronkwo/Radio Nigeria.
Nigeria, often acclaimed as Africa’s largest democracy, grapples with numerous challenges that hinder its democratic progress.
The 2023 general elections continue unsettled after eight months. Legal battles persist across the country, challenging the results of some gubernatorial and legislative elections.
Although the Supreme Court unanimously confirmed President Bola Tinubu’s victory, concluding the transitional phase
However, some of the blame for the challenges faced during the election fell on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Nigerians expressed disappointment as INEC initially promised fool-proof real-time electronic result transmission but then resorted to manual collation, citing a ‘glitch’ that affected the presidential election.
The question arises: Has INEC learned from past election errors? Did the off-cycle election show improvement?
The elections in Kogi, Imo, and Bayelsa on November 11th left citizens disillusioned, despite the fact that more than 5 million people out of 5,409,438 registered voters in these states collected their permanent voter cards.
Flaws persisted, highlighted by Nigerian observers and civil society Groups.
The Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room labelled the polls as a ‘huge disappointment.’ The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) reported vote trading and electoral violence, seeing them as threats to Nigerian democracy.
Yiaga Africa saw the November 11 elections as another missed opportunity to regain Nigerians’ confidence.
Before the voting started in the Kogi election, a filled-out result sheet was discovered and acknowledged by INEC, prompting an investigation.
However, despite numerous challenges during the Bayelsa poll, such as a boat accident involving INEC staff and materials, the kidnapping of election officials, and recorded violence, there have been noticeable improvements compared to previous elections.
Campaign for Dignity in Governance, Frontline Socio-Economy Research Centre, Centre for Human and Socio-Economic Rights, and WorkBond International Network (Win), alongside nine other CSOs, commended INEC for conducting the elections.
Their joint statement praised INEC’s handling of the elections, seeing it as a positive step towards a more mature and accepted democratic process in Nigeria.
Addressing electoral administration glitches
Addressing electoral administration glitches and reforming political parties to fulfil their democratic role are crucial.
Combating entrenched issues like corruption undermining democratic institutions, managing ethnic and religious tensions, ensuring fair elections, and mitigating socio-economic inequalities are pivotal.
Ultimately, the future of Nigeria’s democracy rests on the commitment of its leaders and citizens to uphold democratic values and institutions that genuinely serve the people’s interests.
Writing by Julian Osamoto; Editing by Saadatu Albashir