Nigerians will go to the polls on February 25 and March 11 to elect the president and national legislators, and governors and state legislators, respectively. It’s the 7th back-to-back elections, in a region where the risk of coup detat is on the rise.
The Transition Monitoring Group commends Nigerians, especially the young people who have shown great enthusiasm since preparations commenced for the 2023 election. We urge Nigerians of all religious, ethnic and regional divides to go out on the scheduled dates to cast their votes to elect leaders across the various levels.
The transition monitoring group is working together with various civil society networks across the country to mobilize voters, educate the public, and monitor voting throughout the country. We shall be monitoring the following key issues and will release statements and reports on the conduct and quality of the elections based on field reports from our observers. We will also reach out to critical institutions and agencies on the frontline of planning and administering the 2023 elections.
INEC neutrality: we call on INEC to continue to demonstrate neutrality and respect for its announced processes and guidelines. This is important to maintain public confidence in the process. We further urge the INEC Chairman to ensure the highest level of integrity and professionalism throughout the commission, including national commissioners, state electoral commissioners, electoral officers, and all returning officers.
Adequate and timely deployment of sensitive and non-sensitive materials: we urge INEC to follow its timeline and procedures to achieve the timely release and distribution of all essential and non-essential materials. Further, we urge INEC to remain resolute in its commitment to free and fair elections. Recently, the Commission commenced daily briefing on the elections. We urge the Commission to keep to its promise and continue to speak to Nigerians to maintain their confidence and support.
Avoidance of intimidation and voter suppression: we call all political actors, especially political parties and their supporters, to shun every temptation to intimidate and suppress opposition or any other group of people from exercising their rights. One of the hallmarks of a thriving democracy is the opportunity for people to hold and support different candidates of their choice. It is critical, therefore, that all eligible Nigerian voter can exercise their civic duties free of intimidation and threats of any nature. We urge all security agencies to be vigilant and take action to guarantee the safety of all voters. In particular, we think security agencies must pay particular attention to hard-to-reach communities where the risk of intimidation and voter suppression is higher.
Special Consideration for women, elderly and Persons With Disabilities (PWDs):
TMG calls on the Commission to prevail on polling officials to give special consideration to women, the elderly and persons with Disabilities. TMG is also observing and documenting the overall inclusivity of the election through the conduct of the Commission to the marginalized groups and expects the polling officials to aid and provide support to the elderly, pregnant women especially and PwDs to exercise their franchise without difficulty.
Extra protection for security flashpoints: various expert reports and analyses have identified more than twenty states described as high risk of violence. The states include all six states in the southwest, the BAY states in the northeast, parts of the southeast and south-south, and the northwest region. We urge INEC and all the partnering security agencies to develop security plans for the high-risk areas and work with local actors to mitigate the threats to voters and every person on election duties. TMG will also be observing and reporting from across the 774 local government areas of the country on the conduct of security personnel during the election. We hereby urge the security personnel to be neutral in their conduct at the polling units while prioritizing the security of voters and election materials.
Desist from vote trading:
TMG calls on the political class and their supporters to desist from all forms of vote trading, which reached condemnable heights during the previous state-level elections. Citizens are also urged to shun the act, which is a crime punishable under the country’s laws. TMG urges the deployment of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) to monitor polling units and arrest and prosecute political agents and citizens who engage in vote trading during the election.
Adhere to the National Peace Accord Agreements:
TMG applauds all the political parties and their presidential candidates that signed the national peace accord. With the recent signing, every candidate and their parties have now committed to an ethical code of conduct and to eschew all forms of violence.
Therefore, we urge all candidates and their political parties to promote the national peace accord and encourage their supporters to respect the provisions of the peace accord. The uncontrolled hate and inflammatory statements attributed to candidates and their supporters are a source of worry. And we hope that political parties and their supporters will desist from all forms of actions capable of imperilling the progress of this nation and preserve our young democracy before, during, and after the elections.
Display Great Sportsmanship in Defeat and Victory: Like every other competition, elections are to be won and lost. Losing today does not mean one cannot win tomorrow. Hence, TMG is calling on politicians to be great sportsmen in the election. We expect those who do not win to accept defeat and where they are aggrieved to consider using all legal means to seek redress.
TMG appreciates the international and national observers who are observing the elections across the country as the organization assures of its openness to collaborate with stakeholders across the country on efficient observation of the election. TMG invites interested partners to visit its observation data centre at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja.
This deployment is made possible through the Strengthening Civic Advocacy and Local Engagement (SCALE) project implemented by Palladium with the generous support of the American people through the United State Agency for International Development (USAID). TMG will like to make it clear that the views expressed herein do not represent those of USAID or the United States Government.
TMG, therefore, looks forward to a free, fair and credible presidential election on Saturday, 25th February 2023.
Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani)
Friday, February 24, 2023