Gbenga Sodeinde in Ado-Ekiti
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the people of Ekiti State have been commended for a
peaceful and credible election during Saturday election.
Nigerian Human Rights Community (NHRC), a leading human rights coalition that monitored the Saturday poll, specifically commended INEC performance, the public and government in Ekiti State.
The NHRC specifically noted that “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 commended INEC for the introduction of BVAS, saying it is the hope for Nigerians’ search for elections that meet international standards. NIHRC said it would produce a comprehensive account of the election to be distributed to local and international communities.
The group said all through the exercise, there were no killings, no reports of violence, no snatching of ballots papers, and 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,” adding that: “Even though preference for vulnerable people is not a framework in the country, Ekiti has set the pace which should be emulated by others.”
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. NIHRC said the turnout of voters was also low, and that it was an unimpressive decimal across the country.
According to the group, “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,” adding that the shortcomings were not enough to significantly alter the outcome of the election.
“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,” it said.
NIHRC, a coalition of over 100 civil society, in a report signed by Taiwo Adeleye and Fred Ojinika said the election was a true reflection of the free, prior and informed consent of the Ekiti people. The coalition described the Saturday poll in the state as a good reference point for future elections in Nigeria.
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, and asked them to choose a peaceful and orderly election devoid of violence, saying: “It is important for political leaders to demonstrate affection for peace and stability.
“While this is remarkable for a state that already has a female deputy governor, Speaker and Secretary to the State Government, there is still room for improvement.”