Ahead of tomorrow’s governorship elections in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi states, the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) has said that the outcomes of elections play a crucial role in shaping public perception.
At a press conference by the national chairman of IPAC, Engr Yabagi Y. Sani, at the IPAC voters sensitisation exercise preparatory to the Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi states off season election, at Golden Tulip Hotel, Owerri, Imo State, yesterday, he said when citizens perceive electoral processes as flawed or manipulated, it erodes their trust in the democratic system.
He added that fair and credible elections are essential for fostering a sense of legitimacy and trust in the government, adding that in the light of the above IPAC is introducing an innovative intervention through Election Results Management System (ERMS) which has recently been brought to the attention of INEC chairman, all 19 national chairmen, as well as all the governorship candidates in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi States.
“In particular, the candidates have been told that they can utilise the ERMS even after the election. The ERMS Collation module is ready to commence operation on 11 Nov 2023, and capable of displaying the results on www. ipac.ng/erms. The PU results will not be real-time online, but the collated results will be ahead of those of INEC at the Ward, LG, and State Collation Centres,” he said.
He noted that this innovative intervention by IPAC will not only increase the confidence of the citizens in our electoral processes but also provide political parties with first hand information on election results.
“However, political parties have to be more patriotic because the activities of political actors who are perceived to be corrupt and prioritizing personal gain over the public good fuels disillusionment and cynicism which pose significant challenges to the functioning of democracy,” he said.
According to him a vibrant democracy relies on active citizen participation, informed decision-making, and trust in the institutions that govern, adding that rebuilding this trust requires a concerted effort from all stakeholders, including political leaders, civil society, and the media.
He said that addressing insecurity, ensuring transparent electoral processes, and holding political actors accountable for their actions are crucial steps in restoring faith in Nigeria’s democracy, adding that it is a collective responsibility to work towards creating a political environment that fosters trust, encourages civic engagement, and ultimately strengthens the democratic fabric of the nation.
“Furthermore, empowering citizens to actively participate in the democratic process is key to ensuring the integrity of elections. It’s crucial for the people of Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi to take control of their destinies and resist any actions that could undermine the democratic principles that should guide the electoral process.
“Thuggery, vote buying, and rigging are detrimental to the democratic process and can erode the trust that citizens have in their elected representatives. By resisting these negative influences, citizens can contribute to the creation of a fair and transparent electoral environment,” he said.
He observed that choosing leaders based on merit, vision, and their potential impact on the community is vital, noting that citizens should prioritize candidates who genuinely represent their interests and are committed to the welfare and development of their respective states. He said by doing so, they can ensure that their votes lead to the election of leaders, who will work towards the betterment of their lives and communities.
“Citizens should be proactive in shaping the future of the nation. Grassroots involvement is fundamental to the success of any democracy. By disregarding the negative tactics of political actors and focusing on making informed choices, citizens can contribute to the establishment of a robust and accountable democratic system in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi by their conduct in the forthcoming election,” he said.
He admonished INEC to work diligently in persuading the security agencies to play by the rules of engagement and resist the temptation of being used by desperate politicians, adding that the involvement of security agencies in the electoral process must be based on professionalism, neutrality, and a commitment to the defence of our democracy, rather than partisan interests.
He said the citizens must feel secure in their participation in the electoral process, knowing that their safety and security are assured.
He added that it is also of paramount importance that INEC ensures the timely and secure delivery of both sensitive and non-sensitive electoral materials to the various polling units.
“Delays or mishandling of these materials can lead to suspicion and undermine the credibility of the entire election. We must work collaboratively to guarantee that these materials reach their destinations without any hitches. As we go into these off-season elections, let us recommit ourselves to the principles of democracy, fairness, and transparency. The challenges we face are not insurmountable, but they require a collective effort from all stakeholders involved in the electoral process,” he said.