By Michael Oche,
Election observer group, the Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA) has said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has shown the capacity for the incremental improvement in the management of elections in Nigeria.
The group in its preliminary statement on the conduct of the Edo state governorship election said report from its field observers deployed to polling units across the state showed tremendous improvement in the performance of INEC officials during this election.
Addressing journalists, CTA Programme Manager, MacDonald Ekemezie also commended voter turnout, saying it was generally impressive especially against the backdrop of the fear of electoral violence given the intemperate and charged exchanges and attacks between the two main contending political parties in the state.
He said the Police and other security agencies were professional in their conduct during the election.
Ekemezie however said politicians have not shown commitment to free and fair elections.
He said politicians continue to make inflammatory remarks and indulge in votes buying. According to him, all stakeholders in the election process must work with INEC for credible polls.
He said, “Observers in some units reported incidents of vote buying and discussions among voters about being paid or not being paid. The sincerity of purpose of the political class to contribute to the sustenance of our democracy is again called to question by these reports. The art of vote buying rather than disappearing has assumed the character of anonymity. The political class it appears have further perfected the art and strategy of discrete vote buying.”
Reacting to the adherence to COVID-19 guidelines, he said, “a major source of concern in terms of voters’ conduct was the lack of adherence to the Covid-19 protocols despite all the efforts of INEC Officials. Reports indicate that in most of the polling units, voters refused to observe social distancing and in many refused to put on their face mask despite the best efforts of INEC officials though they were not allowed to vote without their masks.
“After voting, they quickly removed them. However, reports indicate that the NCDC Response Team were available in some areas specifically, the NCDC Response Team were sighted in Abudu in Orhionwon LG, Ehor in Uhunwonde LG and in Ipoba in Okha-Aduwawa LG.”