The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said the experiences of accredited organizations that observed the November 6 Governorship Election in Anambra State are vital knowledge banks from which the commission can draw future elections.
Prof. Kunle Ajayi, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman Election and Party Monitoring Committee (EPMC) made the observation on Thursday in Abuja, at a debriefing session organized by the commission for accredited observer groups that worked during the Guber election in Anambra State.
He said the forum provides an opportunity for the commission to engage observers and draw out their experiences during the election, interact and clarify grey areas of the exercise and without prejudice to the comprehensive report which the Commission still expects from the observers.
For the Anambra Poll, INEC accredited a total of 78 domestic observer groups and 6 foreign groups out of a total of 135 applications it received. However, at the point of distribution of kits, 9 observer groups did not show up to collect their kits or deploy their members to the field, which could be attributed to the then prevailing security challenges in Anambra State.
In his contribution, the Director-General of The Electoral Institute (TEI) Dr Sa’ad Umar Idris said the work of the observer groups are critical to the entire Electoral process, especially as the commission prepares for the 2023 general election.
“As you are aware is one of the major policies of the commission, that after every election, be it small or big Commission, usually gets feedback, feedback in the sense that we engage stakeholders, of course, CSOs just like we are doing now, security agencies. Media, of course, you yourselves and other stakeholders, basically to get feedback to get an assessment of what happened in the field.
“Of course, the Election /Party Monitoring Committee has organized this at The Institute along the same lines, just to get feedback from Observer groups. What were the observations? What are their challenges in the field? And of course, we are all aware. We are preparing in the next month or so FCT council elections thereafter immediately after around June, Ekiti governorship comes up, Then followed by Osun And again, the mother of all 2023, So it is very critical more than any other time for us to really get feedback from all these stakeholders. And that is what we are doing”.
Also sharing his experience, Victor Giwa, National Coordinator, Peoples Right and Justice, one of the observer groups, noted the tense environment in which the election was held. He observed however that with time the situation improved substantially giving voters the confidence to come out and vote.
“Well, of course generally the environment was tense because of the security threat by IPOB, which was called off a day or two before the election. The environment was tense because of the presence of security, it was militarized, all forms of Security Agencies were there, and the people felt a bit of discomfort following from the threats of IPOB and the presence of security and that also affected the turn out of the people towards the election.
“And of course, it reflected in the total number of people that voted and all of that. Well, in the middle of the exercise, we discovered that the people began to build enough confidence, also, Anambrarians were also calm and resolute to vote and it showed in the result” he stated.
Giwa said from his vantage position during the poll the process was fair to all parties and the reported cases of vote-buying were not significant to affect the election outcome.