The condemnations that trailed the initial late arrival of electoral officials, materials, voting and faulty Bimodal Voters Accreditation Systems (BVAs) in some polling units during the Anambra State governorship election turned to commendations yesterday, following the collation and release of results of 19 local councils.
President Muhammadu Buhari was specifically commended for allowing Anambra people to elect the candidate of their choice free, fair and credible election. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), security agencies and the over 5,000 corps members deployed to the state for the election were also lauded for ensuring a credible process. The voters were not left out for being peaceful and orderly despite the initial hitches.
…APGA Chairman lauds Buhari
National Chairman of All Progressives Congress Alliance (APGA) Chief Victor Oye yesterday led those who commended President Buhari for ensuring that Saturday’s governorship election was credible.
Oye, who stated this in Awka yesterday, said Buhari had proven to be a father by giving the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) free hands to conduct the election without interference.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has always been a father by allowing INEC to conduct free, fair and credible election in the country. He will also insist on allowing the people’s will to prevail and not the other way round.
“Left to some other people, the election will have been rigged in favour of another party. But he has always tell them to allow the choice of the people to prevail, that is why APGA is winning the election,” Oye told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
He commended residents of the state for the peaceful conduct of the election.
“Anambra people are known to be peaceful. The violence we had sometime ago was imported; our people are not in any way associated with violence,” he said.
Reacting to calls for supplementary election in some areas affected by malfunctioning of INEC voting equipment, Oye said such election would only enhance the victory of the party.
…Ex-APGA leader extols INEC over BVAS, peaceful exercise
Former APGA National Chairman Chief Victor Umeh also commended INEC over the introduction of BVAS. Umeh, who is the agent of Prof. Charles Soludo, the gubernatorial candidate of APGA in the election, said the usage of the device made the process seamless.
Umeh told NAN that though the BVAS has its challenge, the device was good when compared to the card reader machine.
“Yesterday, the BVAS device could not capture the fingerprints of older people and that reduced the number of people who apparently would have voted,” he said.
Umeh said APGA was grateful to INEC and security operatives for the provision of conducive environment for the exercise.
“We are grateful to God that the election was largely peaceful except for Ihiala where the Commission was unable to distribute the election materials due to some hiccups,” he said.
…Police: one of the most peaceful elections
To Anambra State Commissioner of Police Mr. Echeng Echeng, “It is on record that we have witnessed one of the most peaceful elections in recent times in the country. I can beat my chest on that.”
Echeng said the police did not witness security breach during the election across the state.
“The election was peaceful and we had no incident of violence, ballot snatching or fighting in any polling unit in the state. The election in terms of security was marvellous,” he said.
Echeng attributed the success of the election to team work by security agencies in the state.
“We synergied with sister security agencies and made sure it was incident-free. We held meetings over a long period of time preparing for the election and it paid off,” he said.
He said the peaceful conduct of the election had proven that Anambra was one of the most peaceful states in the country.
“Prior to the election, I have been telling people that Anambra is one of the most peaceful states in the country and the peaceful conduct of the election has proven that,” he said.
Echeng, however, acknowledged that there were some hitches during the election due to malfunctioning of some INEC gadgets.
“Wherever you have hitches during the election, it was not base on security problem; rather, it was based on problems associated with the INEC equipment.
“I think we deserve commendation,” he said.
…Corps members outstanding, says NYSC D-G
Director-General, National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Brig.-Gen. Shuaibu Ibrahim yesterday commended the over 5,000 corps members deployed to Anambra for the governorship election to ensure a credible process.
Ibrahim applauded the corps members while monitoring the election in nine local government areas of the state.
In a statement by Mrs. Adenike Adeyemi, the NYSC Director, Press and Public Relations, Ibrahim described the corps members’ participation in the electoral process as “patriotic”.
He, however, urged the corps members to remain impartial and perform their duties in line with established rules.
“The corps members have written their names in the annals of history, having contributed towards the entrenchment of a credible electoral process. I urge them to remain impartial and perform their duties in line with the established rules.
“In all the polling units I visited, there were security agents on the ground, and the corps members informed me that the conduct of the exercise was peaceful,” Ibrahim said.
No fewer than 5,000 corps members were deployed by the scheme to serve as polling officers during the conduct of the elections in the state.
The NYSC director-general visited polling units across the 21 LGAs of the state to monitor and ensure the safety of corps members working in the areas.
…Foundation: there was adequacy of security personnel
Cleen Foundation, an NGO, has lauded the conduct of INEC officials and that of security personnel deployed for Saturday’s governorship election in Anambra.
Its Executive Director, Mrs. Ruth Olofin, told reporters in Awka yesterday that the NGO monitored the conduct of security operatives during the election in collaboration with the Police Service Commission and a media outfit.
She said the NGO deployed its mobile application called the Cleen Mobile App, which allows accredited observers to report security issues from their respective posts.
“Our 21-man Election Security Support Centre tracked, documented, escalated and followed up on security-related issues across local government areas during the election.
“There was adequacy of security personnel at all polling units. The minimum number of security officials seen in polling units was one, while we also recorded up to 16 security officials in polling units in some hotspots.
“We also observed that 88.2 per cent of the security personnel were wearing easily identifiable nametags and this is commendable. However, we observed that 11.8 per cent were not wearing easily identifiable nametags.
“We observed that 64.7 per cent of polling units were protected by unarmed security personnel. There were reports, however, of firearm possession by security personnel on patrol.
“The statistics generated indicated that 47 per cent of security personnel arrived at polling units before 9 a.m., while 53 per cent arrived after 9 a.m.
“This is below average and we urge security agencies to improve on timeliness in terms of arrival in subsequent elections,’’ Olofin said.
“INEC’s technical teams responded to some of the technical challenges as they arose, which is laudable,’’ she added.
Olofin said other information related to election security were tracked and verified through credible media sources and social media platforms of credible partners.
…CSOs urge Nigerians to back use of technology
Three Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have urged Nigerians to continue to support the INEC in its use of technology for elections.
The CSOs, who monitored the elections in Anambra, gave the advice against the backdrop of the challenges witnessed in Saturday’s governorship election.
Executive Director, Adopt A Goal, Dare Atoye; Chief Executive Officer of YSAD, Obinna Nwagbara; and the Executive Director, EaglePost, Dodoh Okafor, stated this in a joint statement they issued in Abuja.
Notwithstanding the glitches recorded in the use of the BVAS by INEC in the just concluded Anambra governorship poll, there was no alternative to the use of technology in elections, they said.
The organisations expressed optimism that the teething challenges could be overcome in future elections as Nigeria prepares for the 2023 general elections.
“As partners on electoral governance, we note with great displeasure that despite weeks of preparations and commitments in terms of human and financial resources, the BVAS did not yield the optimal outcome leading to the extension of voting in several places and the disenfranchisement of others.
“While we insist that INEC ought to have sorted out these knotty issues before the exercise, our team would like to keep hope alive by believing that these teething challenges can be overcome as we prepare for the general election in 2023.
“We would like to encourage all Nigerians to throw their weight behind INEC to overcome these challenges as we work to move away from the old, fraudulent system of voting and recruiting leaders.
“While we concede to the people the right to be exasperated by what happened in several polling units today, we would caution against throwing away the baby with the bath water.
“Electronic accreditation and transmission of results are the way to go if we are to restore hope in our elections.
“We must never move away from these critical objectives because of the challenges witnessed in the Anambra Decides 2021,” the CSOs added.
The CSOs said they expect INEC, after Anambra election, to sit down with its IT and operational teams and other stakeholders to study the whole events of the election and find out what needs to be fixed to get things right ahead of the general election in 2023.
They also advised INEC to institutionalise the training and retraining of poll workers/volunteers and have them pooled in its reserves nationwide.
“We are also urging INEC to partner with commissions overseeing tertiary institutions to introduce compulsory introductory general academic courses on electoral matters and technology for final year students.
“This electoral civic engagement and knowledge should also be extended to NYSC orientation camps, where practical use of election devices will be learned”, they said
The organisations appreciated all voters in Anambra, who demonstrated great faith in democracy, and came out to exercise their franchise despite earlier uncertainties and apprehension.
… ‘Dysfunctional BVAs disenfranchise many electorate’
Yiaga Africa, an independent election observer group, said late arrival of electoral officials, materials, accreditation and voting, denied many electorate the right to vote in the Anambra governorship election.
Yiaga Africa said this in a situational statement on the gubernatorial election
The group said the challenge of inability of the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVA) or card readers to verify voters timely also resulted to many voters not casting their votes in good time.
Samson Itodo, Yiaga Africa Executive Director, and Dr. Ezenwa Nwagwu, a board member of YIAGA Africa, in a joint statement, said it based its report on verified reports received from 229 of 248 sampled polling units using the Watching the Vote (WTV) method.
It said on the average, two polling officials were deployed to those polling units where INEC officials and materials arrived.
“This is lower than the required number of four polling officials per polling unit; at least one female polling official was present in the polling units.
“Yiaga Africa WTV observed the deployment of the BVAS to the polling units. We received reports of the BVAS failure to authenticate voters’ fingerprints and photos even where voter details were confirmed on the voter register.
“Yiaga Africa is concerned that the non-opening of these polling stations disenfranchises registered voters in those polling units,” it stated.
The observer group blamed the poor deployment of man and materials to voting centres on lack of effective collaboration between INEC and transport companies as well as lack of contingency plans to take care of any failure.
…41 result sheets were carted away, says collation officer
The collation officer for Idemili South LGA of Anambra State, Gabriel Othong, said 41 result sheets for some polling units were carted away.
Othong disclosed this yesterday while submitting results for the area.
He said the result sheets of the affected areas were taken away by the supervisory presiding officer (SPO) posted to the area.
He also said there was no election in Oba ward 1, Oba ward 11 and Akukwu ward, all in Idemili south LGA Area of Anambra.
“One of the SPOs carted 41 result sheets out of the 42 result sheets meant for the 89 polling units in the affected wards,” NAN quoted him as saying.
“Over 40,000 voters were not able to vote in the affected areas due to the development.”
The collation officer added that election officials were not deployed to some of the polling units due to shooting in some areas.
According to NAN, Ebere Obiakor, the agent for the All Progressives Congress (APC) said there was election in the affected areas but the results were not collated.
But Alex Obiogbolu, the collation agent for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Victor Umeh of the APGA, countered Obiakor’s statement, saying there was no election in any of the affected places.
Source:- The Nation
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