The European Union Election Observation Mission (EUEOM) to Nigeria, yesterday berated the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies for failing to live up to the expectations of Nigerians during last Saturday’s Governorship and State Assembly Elections. Chief Observer of the EUEOM, Barry Andrews said Nigerians displayed a high level of enthusiasm and determination to participate in the electoral process but were disappointed by the shoddy security arrangement which made it impossible for many to exercise their franchise on election day. In a preliminary statement released by the EUEOM yesterday in Abuja, Andrews said that the voter apathy and low turnout that marred last Saturday’s poll was due to the loss of confidence and trust in INEC following its poor outing during the February 25 Presidential and National Assembly Elections.
He said that the lack of transparency and operational failures in the conduct of the earlier polls coupled with the high rate of violence last Saturday, dampened the enthusiasm of the electorate and forced many to stay away. “We saw that Nigerians have a great appetite for democracy and are keen to engage in various civic activities. However, in many parts of the country, their expectations were not met. Many were disappointed and we witnessed voter apathy that is in part, a clear consequence of failures by political elites and, unfortunately, also by INEC.
“Positively, INEC introduced some corrective measures ahead of Saturday’s polls, allowing a timely delivery of sensitive materials and improved use of election technologies, yet the institution continued to lack transparency. “Polling on Election Day was disrupted by multiple incidents of thuggery and intimidation of voters, polling officials, observers, and journalists. Lagos, Kano, and other states in the southern and central parts were the most affected. Unfortunately, there were many casualties and fatalities.
Vote-buying, also directly observed by EU EOM observers, further detracted from the appropriate conduct of the elections,” Andrews said. According to him, about 21 persons lost their lives in various incidents connected to the election across the country. It would be recalled that several violent incidents were recorded at various polling centres in Lagos, Ogun, Delta, Rivers, Imo and a host of other states during the said election. The election management body had yesterday, suspended the collation of results in Enugu and Abia states citing violence and threat to public peace in both locations. He saluted INEC for an improvement in its logistics arrangements, adding that the electoral body did better in the conduct of the polls through the deployment and usage of technology. The EU EOM will present and publish its final report, including recommendations for improving the electoral framework in the next few months.