The International Republican Institute (IRI) and National Democratic Institute (NDI) Joint Election Observation Mission (IEOM) have presented their preliminary statement on the Presidential and National Assembly elections in Nigeria, scoring the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, low as well as lacking in transparency in the Saturday polls.
Leader of the Observer Mussion, Dr Joyce Banda, a former President of Malawi, however, congratulated the people on “their resilience and enthusiasm”.
“Despite large crowds in some polling stations and long waits, Nigerian voters demonstrated commitment to participate in the process and a strong desire to have their voices heard,” Banda said.
The mission noted that despite the reforms to the Electoral Act 2022, “the election fell well short of Nigerian citizens’ reasonable expectations.”
The Mission said the electoral commission lacked transparency.
Banda said logistical challenges and multiple incidents of political violence overshadowed the electoral process and impeded a substantial number of voters from participating.
NDI/IRI confirmed currency and fuel shortages imposed excessive burdens on voters and election official, while marginalized groups, especially women, continued to face barriers to seeking and obtaining political office.
The delegation observed that the late opening of polling locations and logistical failures created tensions, and the secrecy of the ballot was compromised in some polling units given overcrowding.
Banda said that after the polls, challenges with the electronic transfer of results and their upload to a public portal in a timely manner, undermined citizens’ confidence at a crucial moment of the process.
“Inadequate communication and lack of transparency by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) about their cause and extent created confusion and eroded voters’ trust in the process.
“The combined effect of these problems disenfranchised Nigerian voters in many areas, although the scope and scale is currently unknown,” the ex-President added.
The statement, however, commended INEC for conducting the general elections according to the electoral calendar “for the first time in the country’s recent history.”