By Progress Godfrey, Abuja
Kimpact Development Initiative, KDI, has expressed disappointment in the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, over the late commencement of polls on Saturday.
The Executive Director of KDI, Bukola Idowu made the Initiative’s findings known during a press conference in Abuja on Sunday, describing as worrisome, INEC’s failure to solve its ‘usual’ election logistics problem.
KDI had deployed an aggregate of 1600 observers (consisting of 1,126 election-day observers and 474 Long Term observers) across Nigeria’s 774 local government areas for the 25th February Presidential and National Assembly Elections.
Idowu said the youth-focused NGO received information from over 20,000 Polling Units, lamenting that despite the time the electoral commission had to prepare, late deployment of staff and material remained predominant during the elections.
“According to our findings. only about 25% of polling units opened on or before 9 am. More than 40% of polling units did not open until 10 am, while up to 15% did not open until midday across the country. This is worrying and disappointing to us; importantly, INEC has continued to assure Nigerians that they were 100% ready for the election and that they got all the support they needed to conduct a smooth, free, fair and credible election. It is very difficult for us to believe that INEC has not learnt any lessons from its past experience or has improved on previous outings.
“We call on INEC to redeem itself by addressing the agelong logistics problem by planning and preparing early and using available technology in the deployment of election materials and officials especially on the day of the election,” said Idowu.
He expressed satisfaction with the turnout of Nigerians to exercise their franchise and the patience in waiting for the process to begin.
Furthermore, the executive director said from KDI’s findings, 55% of polling units observed experienced malfunction of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), as well as lack of know-how by INEC’s staff.
These, he said, extended the organisation’s 90-seconds emphasis for accreditation of voters to an average of 2 minutes, 30 seconds per voter.
Idowu said the KDI is also concerned about the state of violence that greeted the conduct of the elections, especially by party thugs in the South, as it earlier projected.
“KDI recorded 75 cases of violence affecting up to 571 victims of various magnitude across the country, it is difficult at this stage to verify the number of casualties but we intend to release that once we confirm the number.
“Party thugs and party agents accounted for the highest number of perpetrators and indeed the voters were largely the victims. There were more records of election violence in southern states than in the northern state; this is in line with our projection and we are worried it is setting a negative trend for governance and democracy in the country. It is saddening to record cases of ballot box snatching and the carting away of election materials by hoodlums,” he added.
He, therefore, called on security officials not to relent in nipping every act capable of causing violence in the bud. A lot of utterances and widely circulated statements on social media are already tensing up people.
“We strongly advise political parties to prevail on its members not to celebrate or protest when the results have not been announced and everything afterwards should be with patriotism and modesty. Nigeria belongs to everyone and any act of violence will deeply affect everyone,” he said.
He charged INEC to ensure the protection of its technology and digital assets from infiltration or manipulation. “It must not be hacked or manipulated in any form as this may suggest otherwise to people who may feel the commission was not being transparent and upright.”