…Praises improved gender representation
The Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) and the people of Ekiti State have been commended for a peaceful and credible election during Saturday election.
The INEC performance, the public and government in Ekiti state is giving hope to the rest of Nigeria the report of a leading human rights coalition that monitored the Saturday poll said.
When a State Governor and the political leadership promote peace and stability, the consequences will be a credible and transparent poll, the Nigerian Human Rights Community, (NIHRC) said in its preliminary report released on Monday.
The group commended INEC for the introduction of BVAS, saying that it is the hope for Nigerias search for elections that meet international standards. NIHRC said it will produce a comprehensive account of the election to be distributed to local and international communities.
Despite the challenges of BVAS, the innovation is the best Nigeria has ever seen. It eliminates rigging and manipulations. What INEC needs to do is to improve on service delivery, the coalition said in the preliminary report signed by Programme Officers Taiwo Adeleye and Fred Ojinika on behalf of the group.
In the report, the Nigerian Human Rights Community, (NIRC) a coalition of over 100 civil society said the election was a true reflection of the free, prior and informed consent of Ekiti people. The coalition described the Saturday poll in Ekiti as a good reference point for future elections in Nigeria.
The Community also commended the people of Ekiti State and the political leadership for providing a remarkable and peaceful atmosphere for the success of the election into the states House of Assembly.
The group said its officials were impressed by the pre-election peace building and conflict prevention efforts of the State Governor, Biodun Oyebanji, counseling the people on the pathway to greatness asking them to chose a peaceful and orderly election devoid of violence.
It is important for political leaders to demonstrate affection for peace and stability.
This will definitely affect the attitude and perception of the voters on the day of voting. This is a complete departure from what is obtainable in some states where state Governors and political actors openly called for attacks on opponents, the group said adding that Ekiti State has continued to set the tone for global standards in Nigerias electoral fortunes.
Our observers are impressed by the quality of leadership demonstrated by the State Governor, Biodun Oyebanji who was on air calling on voters to shun violence and counseling on the consequences of any attempt to disrupt the poll.
The attitude of politicians is key to determining the nature of elections whether it will be peaceful or deadly. The Ekiti Governor provided the leadership. The Governor set the tone for a transparent and credible election which is rare in Nigeria, the group said.
The report also noted a fair gender representation in the poll which featured six female candidates on the platform of the All Progressives Congress ( APC) for seats in the 26- member Ekiti Assembly.
While this is remarkable for a state that already has a female Deputy Governor, Speaker and secretary to the Government, there is still room for improvement. The group also urged other states to emulate this type of gender inclusion in future poll.
The coalition had deployed 350 local observers, 25 coordinators across the 16 Local Governments, 19 Local Council Development Areas, (LCDA) and in many of the 177 wards, 2,191 polling units. There are 988,932 registered voters while 783,796 collected the PVC.
The number of uncollected PVCs is 205,127.
In its report, the NIRC said the efficiency of INEC in Ekiti, the peaceful conduct of the election and the non interference of the various institutions including the political and security operatives have left a remarkable milestone worthy of emulation in other states of the Federation.
The group said all through the exercise, there were no killings, no reports of violence, no snatching of ballots papers, voters were orderly while the political actors conducted themselves with decorum. It said significantly, in many polling stations, based on the counsel of the State Governor, preference was given to pregnant women, peoples living with disabilities and the physically challenged.
‘Eventhough preference for vulnerable people is not a framework in the country, but Ekiti has set the pace which should be emulated by others the group said.
The group also said INEC needs to create more polling units to encourage greater participation in future elections adding that Ekiti State needs at least 500 more polling units. NIRC said the turnout of voters was also low adding that it was an unimpressive decimal across the country. It appears while 988, 932 collected their PVCs, they could not exercise their democratic rights for various reasons including but not limited to lack of cash to aid transportation, denial of access to personal funds stuck in banks and fuel scarcity in some areas. The group said the shortcomings were not enough to significantly alter the outcome of the election.