Politics

INEC warned against postponing 2023 polls

Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been advised by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and Transparency International (TI) not to delay the 2023 general elections.

According to a statement released by Comrade Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, Executive Director of CISLAC and Head of Transparency International Nigeria, postponing the election scheduled to take place in 44 days will damage the election’s credibility and squander taxpayer money.

He also explained that he and other interested parties had campaigned for the election act so that INEC could more proactively disclose its schedule.

He stated, “We hold the view that no matter how well-intended statements like these are, they come out as a ploy to frustrate or derail the efforts that have been put in place to conduct free, fair, and transparent elections. We see statements like this as counterproductive as they encourage the waste of public funds and can promote the wish of undemocratic agents that do not want Nigerian citizens to exercise their democratic rights.

“We would like to stress that different plans have been made by state and other non-state actors in line with the calendar released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and moving the date will have financial implications.”

Regarding election security, Rafsanjani stated that INEC had ample time to make preparations and coordinate with law enforcement to guarantee a peaceful vote and that postponing the election based on safety concerns would be an admission of failure on the part of the electoral authority.

He emphasised the need for security personnel and election authorities to be well-prepared for any potential threats to the election.

He also urged residents to help security authorities by reporting suspicious activity and called for cooperation between INEC, security agencies, political parties, political leaders, community leaders, and religious leaders.

He said, “We hereby state that this should not be allowed to happen. Security personnel and elected officials must be fully equipped to constantly deal with challenges. This should be part of the function of the National Centre for the Coordination of Early Warning and Response Mechanism, which was signed on 10th June 2022 by the President, to address issues related to threats to human security.

“The Inter-agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICESS) needs to ensure they coordinate better to secure the lives of officials and citizens before, during and after the elections. There must be synergy between the INEC, security agencies, political parties, political leaders, community leaders, religious leaders, and other stakeholders to ensure that free, transparent, peaceful, and democratic elections are held as scheduled by INEC.

“The Country’s electoral commission had three years in which to prepare for the poll and work with stakeholders from the security outfit to address foreseeable and preventable threats to human security that are likely to take place during the election exercise. The postponement will therefore be displayed as a display of utter incompetence and inefficiency.”

He said, “There were security challenges in 2015 and 2019 yet, elections still took place. Those who seek to hold free and fair elections devoid of violence outnumber those who seek to undermine transparent free and fair elections in Nigeria, including those areas where there have been politically motivated attacks on INEC facilities and killings of innocent citizens. Hence, most citizens who want elections cannot be held hostage by a few individuals who don’t mean well for the country.”

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