*Group urges INEC to use March 18 governorship to redeem image, earn Nigerians’ trust
Chuks Okocha in Abuja
The Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) has criticised foreign heads of states for hurriedly congratulating Bola Ahmed Tinubu as President elect, instead of first enquiring from their embassies in Nigeria on the conduct of the Presidential and National Assembly election.
They described it as premature as the foreign heads of states ought to have enquired from their embassies in Nigeria on the outcome before a hurried congratulatory message.
This is coming as a coalition of civil society groups, “Speak Out Africa Initiative (SOAI), have called on INEC to use the opportunity of the shift of the Governorship and States Assembly to resolve all technical glitches associated with the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and the INEC I-rev at the March 18 new date.
Addressing a press conference in Africa, the Executive Chairman of NIDO, Kingsman Chikwelu said that it was not fair for foreign heads of States to congratulate Tinubu as president -elect without seeking to hear first hand the conduct of the election from their embassies in Nigeria.
He said, ” they threw precautions to air and rushed to congratulate Tinubu as president elect in an election that was fundamentally flawed like the February 25 Presidential and National Assembly elections.
“it was an election where the guidelines and code of conduct did not follow the rules of conduct by INEC before the two elections, the BVAS and IRev were not adhered to.
” The media, the civil society groups and other foreign observer groups faulted the elections, yet the foreign heads of states were busy sending congratulatory messages. Is that how to grow and develop development in Africa.
“Those of us from France has sent our opinions and views to the French President., Emmanuel Macron for hurriedly issuing a congratulatory message to the President elect. This should not be encouraged. It is against the development of democracy”, the NIDO executive chairman stated.
The NIDO chief wondered why the Bvas would be advertised as the game changer that actually changed the will of the people..
Also, Kenneth Eze, Executive Director of
SOAI called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to use the opportunity of the shift of the governorship and state houses of assembly elections from March 11 to March 18 to resolve the technical glitches with BVAS and the I-rev.
Though, SOAI acknowledged that the February 25 election was not free and fair, it urged INEC to use the shift to adjust and resolve all technical issues involved.
Also, Eze said “the Judiciary should not disappoint Nigerian. Don’t rely on technicalities being the last hope of the common man”, while he called for calm and let the judiciary do it’s work.
According to SOAI, “In this vein, we have launched a survey for citizens
to appraise INEC conduct, adherence to its own guidelines/electoral act,
perceived trust pre-presidential/national assembly election and Now after
results declaration, and most importantly, likely behavior in the coming gubernatorial/state assembly cum future elections. This will inform our survey.
“Just yesterday, the appeal court tribunal ruling on the INEC varying request to
reconfigure the BVAS in preparation for gubernatorial/state assembly election
has made them to reschedule the originally slated 11th March
gubernatorial/state assembly election to now March 18; an extension by one (1)
week. Surprisingly, most citizens welcomed the judgement in good faith and had no issues with the postponement as it is viewed to be in favor of democracy for giving aggrieved presidential candidates fair ground to access election evidence from INEC.
“We must not fail to commend INEC for later withdrawing the varying
request. This is a good decision as it earlier aspersions on its image as trying to hide something. Again, INEC should be commended for retracing its steps. In all of this, INEC is not being blamed for the postponement, neither is the judicial in its judgement.
On Judiciary, the group said, “we call on Judiciary to air the current Presidential/National
Assembly Appeal Court Tribunal hearing live for Nigerians to feel a sense of participation. This will enhance and strengthen the trust of the Nigerian people more in the judiciary.
On INEC, “We therefore call on INEC as the electoral umpire to rebuild its integrity & trust, close all the lapses identified in the last presidential/national assembly elections especially in areas like logistics, BVAS functionality, results upload from polling units direct to iRev portal for transparency & participation, voter education on polling unit transfer as well as being seen as truly independent, transparent and on the side of the Nigerian people.
“We task INEC to do everything possible to eschew mistrust in the commission especially as the presidential candidates approach them for certified true copies of election results/material documents.
This is with a recourse to the Osun Gubernatorial scenario where two political parties presented to the court two different certified true copies with claim to have emanated from same INEC commission for lack of synchronization between the primary data (BVAS) and the back end server by the commission.
“This is inimical to our democracy and cast aspersions on our electoral body as an institution and must not be allowed to happen again. INEC must show a good cause to trust them by walking the talk this time. They must know that their allegiance remains to the citizens of Nigeria.”, the Executive Director of the group stated.