Guber, Assembly Elections: Foreign Observer Group Gives Reasons for Voter Apathy

Okon Bassey in Uyo

One of the international observer groups that monitored the last elections in Nigeria, Pan African Women Projects, has given reasons that influenced the low turnout of voters recorded during the governorship and state House of Assembly elections in the country.

The spokesperson for the group, Ms Can Dice Solomon, said at a press conference in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, that the postponement of the governorship and state House of Assembly elections a week after the presidential elections might have dampened the spirits of the electorate.

She said: “Also, INEC performance at the presidential elections, especially as results were seen not to be transmitted to the IREV across the state, had altered the people’s trust in the electoral system,” she said,  noting that with a poor perception of INEC’s credibility, citizens now doubted that their votes would count.

On security, the group said there were no security agents in some of the polling units visited in Akwa Ibom State, which created room for fighting and heavy invasion of thugs.

Miss Solomon said the absence of security personnel at the polling units was very unprofessional of the security agencies despite the assurances given to the electoral body, government and citizens regarding the safety and peaceful conduct of the election.

The group tasked INEC to look for an alternative to road transport workers in the movement of election materials and personnel, as it is no longer effective, as it causes serious delay in the process.

According to the group, “INEC should look beyond road transport workers for transportation of election materials as they are usually manipulated by corrupt politicians to sabotage effort of INEC.”

On the use of INEC ad-hoc staff, the group said: “The commission should look into the quality of the personnel they send out to the field for election duty, as young and hungry NYSC members are easily induced by corrupt politicians and party people.

“We suggest that disciplined religious bodies and organisations with pedigree like priests, reverend sisters, pastors, Islamic scholars, lawyers and directors of federal and state ministries as well as EGOs, who would not be able to compromise their position and retirement benefit should be considered over young fragile corps members.”

The group pointed out that the governorship and state House of Assembly elections had pockets of violence and intimidation in the three senatorial districts of the state.

It urged INEC to increase the duration of the training of the ad-hoc staff before every election to enable them gather adequate knowledge especially in the use of new technology.

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