CTA, INEC, stakeholders brainstorm on credible, peaceful 2023 elections

An electoral official accredits a woman to vote at a polling station during the Anambra State governorship election at Uga, Aguata district in southeast Nigeria, on November 6, 2021. - Nigeria's restive southeastern state of Anambra voted for a new governor on October 6, 2021, in a ballot seen as a test of the electoral system less than 18 months before presidential polls. More than 30,000 police have been dispatched to secure Anambra after a string of attacks in the southeast blamed on separatists from the Indigenous People of Biafra or IPOB who agitate for an independent state for the local Igbo people. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP) (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP via Getty Images)

By Michael Oche

Security agencies, election observer groups, media and other stakeholders in election managers have been urged to support to determination of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to hold a peaceful and credible 2023 poll.

The charge was given at a one-day North-central stakeholders meeting organised by the Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA) in preparation toward the 2023 general elections.

In her welcome address, CTA Executive Director, Ms Faith Nwadish tasked security agencies on the need to synergise to guard against breakdown of law and order during and after the general elections.

According to her, “INEC has recently raised an alarm indicating that insecurity may stall the 2023 elections.”

She therefore noted that security was a critical aspect of the electoral process that requires attention, adding that security agencies should up their game in ensuring safety of lives during the entire electoral process.

She said: “Citizens too have had cause to worry over the ugly and alarming trend of burning INEC offices and materials in recent times.

“This dangerous and criminal act if unchecked could pose a grave danger to the 2023 general elections.

“All men and women of goodwill should condemn these senseless attacks while joining hands to quench this ugly trend.

“We expect better synergy between the police, the lead security agency on election security and other members of the Inter-agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCESS) with stakeholders on election,” he said.

Nwadishi further urged the agencies to share important information with other stakeholders, especially on flash points.

The executive director urged the electorate to say no to money politics, all forms of inducement and money laundering associated with politics and elections.

“Citizens’ choices must never be subverted by the negative use of money to influence votes, including the criminal purchases of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) by politicians.

“We recognise clearly that the symbolic presence of law enforcement agents at polling units on election has not deterred vote buying.

“It is, therefore, important that a more result-oriented method like covert operations be adopted to curb this menace.”

Also speaking, Resident Electoral Commissioner for the Federal Capital Territory, Yahaya Bello, cautioned that the cashless and currency swap policies of the Central Bank of Nigeria have constituted a major challenge to the 2023 elections.

According to him, apart from the cash challenge, INEC was prepared for the election as it had taken delivery of 80 percent of the materials for the polls and trained staff ahead of the exercise.

Bello said, “Honestly, I don’t see challenges because the commission has made a lot of preparations. A lot of materials have already been got. We have done some training. We are doing more training. We have made a lot of consultations with stakeholders. A lot of materials have been dispatched to the area councils.

“When you talk about the challenge, sincerely, the challenge to this election as we are going about now in the FCT and by and large, I believe all over the nation, is the cash policy.