The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) to Nigeria recently released a report of the 2019 general elections.
The EU EOM faulted the election processes, saying only minimal dosage of the post-2015 election recommendations were revisited and used in the last poll, describing the February elections as a controversial one, clouded by “operational and transparency shortcomings.”
This report was revealed to journalists over the weekend in Abuja. It noted that the 2019 elections would have recorded substantial improvements from past elections if President Buhari had consented to the bill.
“In 2015, the EU EOM made 30 recommendations. Of these, four were implemented, including two priority recommendations. The Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, if assented to, would have increased the number of recommendations implemented as it included many positive measures including provisions on results of transparency.
“The lack of legal reform was a missed opportunity and the late rejection of the bill put more operational pressure on INEC.”
The EU EOM also informed the country, that prior to the election day, they observed overlapping jurisdictions and lengthy timelines resulting in conflicting and late rulings.
“The timeframes for pre-election cases should be shortened, so that cases are completed well in advance of election day. This could include reducing time limits for determinations and appeals, and the number of appeal levels,” he said.
They further recommended increase in judicial capacity through the appointment of more judges, training on election-related matters, and improved case-management mechanism.
Mr. Osita Okechukwu, the Director General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON) and member of the ruling party, APC, said that the observation from EU EOM serves as proof that INEC did not generate results of the 2019 elections from a server.
Osita Okechukwu pointed out
Mr. Okechukwu also said he finds it amusing how the Peoples Democratic Party [PDP] argued that INEC conducted elections transparently in Bauchi, Imo, Adamawa, Zamfara, Oyo etc but where APC won, the results were manipulated.
“Methinks, it’s wrong to gloss over the truism that President Muhammadu Buhari has a 12 million vote-bank on display in 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015, and in the 2019 presidential elections.
“Therefore, Facebook Server or Twitter Server, the hard fact is that Buhari has cult followership, which is only comparable to that of Mallam Aminu Kano or Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sarduna of Sokoto, both of blessed memory, in the North. Nobody can erase this hard fact,” he said.
He also pointed out the systemic failings in the elections and low levels of voter's participation.
He said: “I am in league with the statement emanating from the presidency that Buhari will work with all Nigerian citizens, state institutions, civil society, the media and other experts, to make sure there will be proper electoral reforms.
“Let me plead with INEC to gradually commence the introduction of e-voting (electronic voting) in the off cycle state elections, as preparatory ground for full implementation.
“We must remind ourselves that there was a time when one eminent citizen said that telephone is not for the poor, but today the groundnut hawker in his village has a smartphone. We must commence e-voting as a matter of urgent national importance.
Another conflicting opinion of civil society organisation, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria [HURIWA], calling for the sacking of INEC chairman, Professor Yakubu Mahmood.
It said allowing the INEC boss who ‘midwifed' the 2019 polls to stay on is like promoting a ‘school principal’ who supervised widespread leakage in an examination where 50 per cent of his students were caught cheating with the connivance of the principal and other staff.
HURIWA blasted INEC in fiery outburst
The Civil Society [HURIWA] further said:
“This shows that INEC was an affiliate of the All Progressives Congress during and after the widely disputed polls. An independent commission ought to be focused on helping the election tribunal reach an objective and truthfully honest determination rather than be the megaphone of one of the contending parties in the petition before a competent court of law.
“A self-respecting academic professor would, of his own volition, quit office in any sane government and civilized nation the moment it becomes known that he has failed to discharge the functions for which the Nigerian state invested multi-billion dollars of public funds.
“We agree totally with the conclusions of the election observations made by the EU election monitoring team that watched the 2019 polls to such an extent that the reports highlighted the state-sponsored violence that marred the polls and the lack of openness and transparency by INEC.
“We also accept the EU’s observations about the misbehaviour of some rogue armed security operatives and their officers who were deployed by politicians to kill, maim and destroy many lives and electoral materials in the areas that the leading opposition PDP was coasting home to victory in both the National Assembly, governorship and presidential polls.”