2023: Plot to undermine elections, stop use of BVAS real – CSO


…ask Buhari to order investigation of person behind plot

By Michael Oche

Ezenwa Nwagwu, chairman of the Partners for Electoral Reform has expressed surprise that Nigerians are not taking the threat by politicians to compromise the 2023 election seriously, saying that the threat is real.

Nwagwu who is also a Board member of the YIAGA Africa said in an interview with journalists in Abuja that President Buhari must order an investigation into allegations by some individuals to pressure INEC leadership to deactivate the Bi-modal Voter Accreditation System (BIVAS) in 2023.

He alleged that those in collusion to also remove the chairman of INEC, Prof Mahmood Yakubu involve persons in security agents, judiciary and legislature. He added that the President must rein in on the security agencies, to align them with his vision of a legacy of electoral integrity.

According to him, “The challenge is for the president who has promised at the international stage, not even in Nigeria, he went to the UN and said he is going to leave a legacy of electoral integrity. And that that is one thing he’s going to bequeath to Nigerians. But the current activities of people who want to undermine this election, this 2023 election, is not giving any impetus to that international promise that the President made and I think he should be concerned and worried about that.”

Nwangwu said Nigerians need to raise their voice now to defend the democracy and not to start complaining after the election

He said, “The active citizens of this country need to raise their voice now. Not after the election when they have been done and we start complaining. Election rigging does not start on Election Day. Election rigging starts with active connivance of security agencies, judiciary and on attack on the process. Once the process that brings credible elections is attacked, the outcome is going to be different and that is the challenge.”

He said further that the current INEC leadership has put in place a legacy that no one can erase, in the sense that it has played itself completely out of any relevance in determining who wins elections.

He said, “It has successfully restored power back to the people. Power to elect has returned back to the polling units. But that has triggered a lot of reaction from politicians who are completely absent in any conversation about reforms. What that means is that there seems to be spotlights on electronic transmission of results. There seems to be a lot of interest around the BVAS and these are the game changers for 2023.”

“If the citizens are not careful, our investment in consolidating this democracy can be reversed. And that for me is the big challenge for 2023. The threats of reversal of all the gains, incremental gains that we have made to restore power back to the citizens of the country, through the polling units.

“Few days ago, the CUPP addressed a press conference, and it is the reaction that is of interest to me. It doesn’t look as if a lot of people are taking that press conference seriously.

“The allegations that were made there deserve investigation. If you can have a congress or coalition of political parties coming to say that the 2023 election is threatened and that there are people who are working to even remove the INEC chairman, and citizens are just like okay, he’s one of those press conferences”, he said.

He also pointed to the confirmation of some persons with “questionable past” by the National Assembly as INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) as a serious threat to the transparency of the 2023 election.”

He said, “So we are interested in ensuring that Nigerians are alerted to the threats that certain people within the security apparatus are working with some governors to undermine this democracy. And the way to do that is to begin to put up trumped-up charges against the leadership of INEC and they’ve been doing that.”