NIGERIA LABOUR CONGRESS (NLC)
25TH OF FEBRUARY, 2023
2023 ELECTIONS: INEC, WHERE ARE THE LESSONS LEARNT FROM PREVIOUS ELECTIONS?
As Nigerians went to the Polls this morning to elect a new President and members of the National Assembly, we had high hopes that this election cycle will be far better than the previous ones given the huge lessons learnt from past elections by INEC but thus far, we are far from being convinced.
The NLC had hoped that the ills of electioneering in Nigeria would have been largely dealt with and corrected in this year’s election so that we can have a more credible and valid election. The report reaching us thus far from around the country is contrary to the high hopes which we have earlier had for today’s exercise.
The experiences of yesterday ought to have prepared INEC to conduct a better election this year. We had hoped that Voting materials would reach their destinations on time so that the various time frames would be strictly adhered to preventing the disenfranchisement of potential voters. Report reaching us paints a rather frightening picture that in many areas around the Country, as late as 12 Noon; voting materials were yet to get to the Polling Units.
We are worried of the Reports of manifest incidences of violence in some Polling units and areas where activities of thugs are pronounced even in the presence of Security agencies. INEC ought to ensure that voters perform their rights in secrecy to avoid exposing them to the violence that has been reported.
The sanctity of the ballot must be protected and this will not be the case if the Police and INEC officials fail to perform their duties to Nigerians. Guidelines for Voting must be followed to protect the rights of voters at the Polling units guaranteeing that their choices remain private. This builds confidence and ensures large turnout in the election.
INEC must deal with the Voter suppression and Ballot Box snatching that is going on in some parts of the country. If voters are beaten at the Polling Units, the signal to other voters is to stay at home and not vote. This disenfranchises and is undemocratic thus unacceptable..
It is important that INEC understands that this election is also a referendum on its capacity to conduct free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria. It shoul youd not therefore fail itself and Nigerians again but prove wrong those who have come to believe that it would be difficult for INEC to raise the bar in election conducts in Nigeria.
There is no other Institution that would be held responsible except INEC if it fails to live up to the expectations of Nigerians given the huge resources invested in it, the pivotal nature of this election and the enormous time they had in preparing for this cycle. Its experiences in election conduct must be brought to bear in this election to make it successful. Every organisation is as rich as its various experiences and repertoire of information. INEC’s should not be different.
To this end, the NLC will hold INEC directly responsible for all the anomalies associated with this election. All eligible voters must be given the opportunity to exercise their democratic fights to vote for the candidates of their choice. Anything short of this will be unacceptable to Nigerian workers.
INEC should immediately sit up and correct what is happening. Their Monitoring mechanism must swing into action and correct what is already being observed to avert what we are already observing in the field.
If INEC gets it right, Nigeria will get it right. This election offers us such hope and INEC is at the centre of this hope.
Comrade Joe Ajaero