• Thursday, July 18, 2024
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2023 Electoral infractions have dented Nigeria’s image — GoNigeria

goNigeira

The electoral infractions that took place during the conduct of the 2023 presidential, governorship, national, and state legislative elections have dented the image of Nigeria in the eyes of the international community, says GoNigeria, a non-governmental organisation dedicated to the promotion of good governance and credible transfers of power through an acceptable democratic process in Nigeria.

Some of these electoral infractions that blighted the credibility of the 2023 elections were voter intimidation, voter suppression, destruction of election materials at polling units, falsification of results, promotion of hate speech, and the alleged connivance of security officials, election staff, and individuals suspected to be thugs to compromise the voting process, among others.

Read also: Electoral violence, ballot box snatching: Rivers Govt House police troops fingered

In a press statement titled, “GoNigeria stands in solidarity with Nigerian Voters over 2023 elections,” released on Monday, the organisation said that “the images and videos of violence, hateful speech, and election officials in compromising positions dent Nigeria’s image in the international community and most importantly sow seeds of disaffection and disunity amongst us.”

It condemns in strong terms all acts of lawlessness carried out during these elections that not only seem to make the country a laughing stock in the community of democratic nations but have sown the seed of disunity with dangerous implications for the future of the nation.

GoNigeria, however, commended the millions of Nigerians who stood firm in the face of their oppressors to cast their votes, especially those within the ages of 18-34, who made up over 70 percent of first-time voters.

The statement partly read, “It is in that vein that GoNigeria recognises and commends the committed and honest Nigerians across the election ecosystem who withstood pressure and intimidation in the execution of their responsibilities.

“To the many who went out of their way to make it easier for people to vote and to protect their votes, we also acknowledge and thank you all as inspiring examples of who we are and can be.

“We also commend Nigerians aged 18 to 34 who answered the call to register, collect their Permanent Voter Card and participate in the elections. You constituted the highest number of new registrations at 6.70m of 9.46m (ie, 70.8%), and we urge you to not despair about the election process and results but to remain steadfast and committed to pursuing a legitimate path to the Nigeria we all desire.”

The organisation, which houses some prominent members of the society such as Atedo Peterside, Folarin Falana (Faz), Yemi Adamolekun (Enough is Enough executive director), Aisha Yesufu, and a few others, however, made some recommendations. Some of these recommendations are:

“That all Nigerians, regardless of provocation, shun all acts of violence and follow due process and the rule of law in their pursuit for justice.

“That the Nigerian Judicial System, which remains the last resort for restoring confidence in the electoral process and correcting injustices, hear the calls for justice and discharge their duties without fear or favour.

“That duty bearers, particularly state security and prosecutors, address the high level of hate speech threatening the peace and social cohesion. The promoters of religious and/or ethnic-based hate speech must be investigated, prosecuted, and punished in line with the provisions of our laws in order to deter future promoters.

“That allegations of malpractice and fraud by electoral officials on the national and state level be investigated, and where appropriate, those found implicated be prosecuted accordingly.”

They agreed that the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) and INEC’s Result Viewing Portal (iReV) were game changers and tools the electoral commission could use to improve future elections, but insisted that INEC work continuously to build on the gains of these technologies.

They also demanded, like most Nigerians, that our security agencies show the “highest standard of equity and professionalism.”