By Progress Godfrey, Abuja
Ahead of Saturday’s Presidential election, Speak Out Africa Initiative, SOAI, has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to conduct voter education before accreditation commences.
The Executive Director of SOAI, Kenneth Eze, made this call in Abuja on Thursday during a Pre-Election Press Briefing and Launch of the organisation’s “Citizen-led Election Radar Room,” to track, observe, analyse and report real-time incidences with accuracy, and prescribe solutions to arising challenges.
According to him, the NGO would deploy indigenous observers to ensure a hitch-free and seamless observation of the election processes in their various polling units across Nigeria.
Eze commended the INEC for its level of preparedness while expressing displeasure over transfers of voters to different polling units, few days to elections, without proper citizen sensitisation.
He highlighted Lagos, and Ebonyi among other parts of the country prone to electoral violence while calling on security agencies to stay vigilant as there is a likelihood of undemocratic action.
He said, “Through our violence incidence tracker, we wish to alert the security agencies to place an eye on the following states as there is likelihood of undemocratic actions to be carried out which are proponents of violence. Such states are Lagos as HIGH-RISK state – where there is likelihood of Voter Suppression, likely security breaches, Vote-Buying, Deliberate logistics delay, Ethnic Coloration, Attempt to compromise INEC staff, likely attempt to undermine technology functionality & palpable Violence attack on voters. Ebonyi & Abia as MEDIUM RISK states – likelihood of attacks on political opponents using state machinery, Political desperation by key actors and politically-induced Voter apathy. Rivers & Delta as HIGH-RISK states – where political power tussle will be at the highest, Vote Trading & activities of Non-state actors, Kano, Kogi & Kaduna as HIGH RISK states – where political power tussle will be at the highest, Vote Trading & attempt to compromise INEC staff and likely security breaches, and lastly Benue, Zamfara, Nasarawa, Anambra, & Enugu as LOW-RISK States that need to be curtailed.
“INEC should carry out a pre-voter education before accreditation commences to all the voters in the queue on how to vote correctly, how to fold the ballot paper as well as issue of polling unit transfer to quell voter agitation.
“We call on the inspector general of police to configure Polling units’ security agent encryption where each assigned security agent to polling unit would be held accountable for actions/inactions such as vote buying and other vices, and such personnel details should be given to the INEC staff in the polling unit to avoid impersonation/for recognition.”
Eze who thanked President Buhari for his efforts to give Nigerians reasons to trust the electoral process, charged him to walk the talk by ensuring a level playing field for all contestants.
He further urged the central bank of Nigeria to track all transfers of money during the election period through the commercial banks for possible identification of suspicious electronic money transfers from single source-to-multiple individuals, to curtail vote buying.
He also called on citizens to not just cast their votes but ensure to defend it by watching through INEC’s results viewing portal.