About 75 opposition political parties on Monday passed a vote of confidence on the National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu for the conduct of the 2019 general elections.
Rising from a two-day round-table discussion with the theme: “The role and performances of stakeholders in the 2019 general elections, issues, challenges and prospects,” which held at International Conference Centre, ICC, Abuja, the parties also approved the results of the elections as declared by INEC saying they were credible and acceptable to them.
Participants also touched on the issue of low turnout of voters at the elections and recommended that the presidential, national assembly, governorship, state assembly as well as chairmanship and councillorship elections be held on the same day.
They also harped on the need for internal democracy within political parties even as they urged President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the Electoral Amendment Bill into law whenever the National Assembly represents it to him.
They also asked INEC to “replicate the National Collation Centre in all the states and local government councils.”
The Acting Executive Director, Centre for Transparent Advocacy, CTA, Faith Nwadishi, commended INEC for being truly independent in discharging its responsibilities during the elections. She said, “INEC as the umpire of the general elections, proved quite independent in the way and manner it responded to the unexpected challenges thrown its way by the stakeholders in the process and other unforeseen circumstances during the last general election.
“Of note is how it bravely prevented the ruling party from fielding candidates in Zamfara in its determination to follow the rules no matter whose ox is gored.
“More crucially, on the ground, during election and voting day, it refused to be intimidated by threats and violence unleashed on its officials and ad-hoc staff leading to some certificates of return being withheld by INEC though this is now subject to litigations.”
Nwadishi urged the political class to “take internal democracy seriously.”
A communiqué issued at the end of the round-table read in part: “The round-table after a comprehensive review of the conduct of the 2019 general elections passes a vote of confidence on the (INEC) Prof Yakubu for the successful conduct of the election, and notes with satisfaction the transparency in communication and regular engagement of stakeholders at the national, state and local government levels which ensured that everybody was carried along in the process.
“The round-table calls on President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the Electoral Amendment Bill into law when re-presented to him by the National Assembly to save the country from the problems associated with the extent law.
“In order to address dwindling turnout of voters after the first election and increase the zeal to elect credible leaders The round-table recommends the conduct of the three principal elections, viz; presidential/national assembly election, governorship/state assembly elections and chairmanship/councillorship elections on the same day.
“This will save cost, ensure emergence of quality leadership, the integrity of the ballot, large voter turnout and guarantee improved security on Election Day.
“The round-table equally called for the scrapping of ad-hoc arrangement by the electoral body in the conduct of elections, just as it recommended that dates for possible run-off, rerun or inconclusive poll should be made known while scheduling election time table.
“INEC should strengthen the capacity of its polling staff through training and retraining particularly on the handling of the card readers, assisting voters as well as other electoral procedures to ensure transparency and credibility during future elections.
“INEC should consider, recruiting permanent staff whose schedule should be collation of results, train them thoroughly for the assignment to save the nation the embarrassment of ad hoc collation officers.
“Efforts must be intensified to ensure proper coordination of Inter Agency Committee on Election Security (ICES) and the non-partisan deployment of security personnel to all the polling units to ensure peaceful conduct of polls.”
Participants at the event which was chaired by Prof. Remi Aiyede included political stakeholders and members of the Civil Society Organisations, CSOs.
It was also graced by the immediate past Vice President of Sierra Leone, Sam Sumana.