LEPAN Commends INEC on 2019 Election Preparedness

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Joy Ekeke

Ahead 2019 general election, the League of Progressive Ambassadors of Nigeria (LEPAN), a non-partisan civic organisation, has praised the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) preparedness and urged the body to proactively tighten the loose ends in order to deliver a credible election.

In a statement signed by its Publicity Secretary, Seun Okegbemiro, the group commended INEC for recording a pass mark in the commencement of the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise nationwide but urged the body to address avoidable logistic challenges observed by LEPANs monitoring teams across the country.

“We must first commend INEC for the relative success of the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise nationwide. From the data available from our field officers monitoring the process in several states of the federation, the CVR has been a remarkable success even though there are areas that need to be improved.

“We feel particularly disappointed with several reported logistic failures such as non-functional printers, Direct Data Capture (DDC) machines, and poor staff attitudes toward potential voters and registrants. We, therefore, urge INEC to ensure these anomalies are corrected so that more Nigerians can register and participate in the democratic process.” Okegbemiro said.

Okegbemiro further noted that they are ready to partner with INEC by providing volunteers to address the issue of under-staffing which can slow down the process of registration.

“On our part, we have offered to get volunteers for INEC if staff shortage is one of the reasons for the seemingly slow registration process which sometimes see a potential registrant spend up to 40 minutes on the average to get registered. This should not be the case in this digital age.”

The group also admitted that there have been “technical and political improvements” in the electoral process since the 2015 elections.

“We should not forget that there have been some significant technical and political improvements in conducting successful elections under the current INEC management with the conduct of several gubernatorial, National Assembly and state Houses of Assembly by-elections. These elections themselves simply show that we are better than how we were about four years ago.”

“We on our part will have preferred a situation where INEC should, by now, be thinking of electronic voting since there have been several opportunities for INEC to test this method with the past few elections but unfortunately failed to do so. If those elections have been conducted using the e-Voting, by now, the fears about multiple voting, ballot stuffing, and post-election violence that accompany major elections would have been minimised, if not wiped away by now.” Okegbemiro charged.

On the recently passed #NotTooYoungToRun Bill, Mr Okegbemiro said “The #NotTooYoungToRun Bill has become a national emergency. We are using this medium to plead with President Buhari to give his assent to the bill in meaningful time. This is because the youths will be asking some serious questions during next year’s presidential election. We will want to know why, by now; young people who have intentions to contest elective offices cannot do so simply because the president has not given his assent to a Bill that would ordinarily have made them participate actively.”