Group urges stakeholders to engage INEC’s 2023 election report to improve future polls

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By Michael Oche

The Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA) an election observer group has said the recently released report by INEC on the conduct of the 2023 general election is not merely academic; but a call to action for all stakeholders involved in the democratic process, aiming to foster a more robust, transparent, and inclusive electoral environment in the years to come.

CTA in a statement by its executive director, Faith Nwadishi said after an initial examination of the INEC report, the organisation regards it as a pivotal document for the future, reflecting on it as a testament to the electoral journey of Nigeria

She said to delve deeper into the observations and extract meaningful lessons from the report, the CTA will organize a one-day symposium to bring together stakeholders to thoroughly analyze the document released by INEC.

According to her, the aim is to distill key learnings and establish guidelines that will enhance the integrity and effectiveness of future elections.

Looking at the various highlights of the report, the CTA executive director said it agreed with the INEC’s position that no party dominated the 2023 poll.

She said, “in 2023, the electoral landscape was notably competitive, with no single party emerging as the clear frontrunner. This openness was largely attributed to the equitable conditions fostered by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the diligent efforts of political parties.

“These parties engaged earnestly in their campaigns, making concerted efforts to appeal to potential voters, particularly young individuals, whose engagement in the electoral process reached unprecedented levels. Despite the inclusive and competitive nature of the election, it was not without its challenges. Reports of vote buying and instances of violence were observed across the country, casting a shadow over the democratic process.”

Regarding how INEC survived the CBN currency swap, Nwadishi said report delineates several challenges encountered during the election, including attacks on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) facilities nationwide, currency shortages due to the CBN currency swap policy, fuel scarcity, logistical hurdles, and an increase in transport fares by vehicle owners on election day, alongside the provision of smaller vehicles that were less accommodating.

She said despite these myriad of challenges, INEC succeeded in fulfilling its mandate to conduct the 2023 General Elections, showcasing the Commission’s commitment and resilience in the face of adversity.

Nwadishi said the CTA observes that the 2023 General Elections may stand out for disrupting traditional political strongholds, marking a significant departure from the past.

According to her, “in these elections, several seasoned lawmakers, previously considered unbeatable, faced unexpected defeats in their constituencies. Moreover, newcomers managed to outperform incumbent governors, and a number of surprisingly unpopular figures secured seats in the National Assembly. This shift in the political landscape underscores the evolving dynamics of voter preferences and the unpredictability of electoral outcomes.”