A coalition of 70 organizations known as the Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room has called on Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to issue an apology to the Nigerian people for the perceived failure in the conduct of the 2023 general elections.
The Situation Room expressed disappointment in INEC’s performance, despite assurances given by the Chairman.
In their final statement on the elections, released to the press in Abuja, the Situation Room criticized the electoral body for its poor organization, logistical and operational failures, lack of transparency, voting disruptions, and incidents of violence during the election process. They concluded that the elections could not be considered credible due to these shortcomings.
The Situation Room specifically highlighted the lack of transparency in the result collation process and the inadequate communication from INEC regarding the challenges it faced on election day. They emphasized the need for additional reforms and improvements to be implemented to prevent further decline in the quality of future elections in Nigeria. The restoration of public confidence in INEC’s ability to conduct elections and the reestablishment of trust in the credibility of election outcomes were identified as crucial objectives.
“As a body, the Situation Room demands that the INEC Chairman should apologize to Nigerians for his failure.”
As part of their recommendations, the coalition of CSOs proposed several measures to address the issues identified in the conduct of the 2023 general elections. They called for a constitutional amendment to eliminate the position of Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) and instead appoint State Directors of Elections who would be under the control and direction of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The CSOs also urged the prompt consideration and implementation of the suggestion made by the Justice Uwais Committee to unbundle INEC. They emphasized the need for an effective legal framework to be established for the creation of an Electoral Offences Commission and Tribunal, a Political Parties Registration and Regulation Commission, and an agency responsible for constituency delimitation.
These proposed measures aim to strengthen the electoral process, enhance transparency, and ensure the proper regulation of political parties and electoral activities. The CSOs believe that implementing these reforms will contribute to the improvement of future elections in Nigeria and restore public trust in INEC’s ability to conduct credible and transparent electoral processes.
“Proposed amendments to the Constitution should include issues critical to the inclusiveness of the electoral process, such as endorsement of early voting for election day workers, independent candidacy and voting by Nigerians in Diaspora, in conformity with international principles for democratic elections,” the Situation Room added in the joint statement that was signed by its Convener, Ene Obi and Co-Conveners, Asma’u Joda and James Ugochukwu.