#EdoDecides2020: CDD Hails Electoral Process, Highlights Some challenges, Infractions
The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has rated the conduct and outcome of Edo State, governorship election as relatively credible, despite the challenges and infractions on Saturday 19th of September.
The Centre noted that the election was relatively peaceful when compared to other polls recently conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
In the final observation report signed by CDD Director, Idayat Hassan, and Head, Election Analysis Centre (EAC), Professor Adele Jinadu, the group further described the generally peaceful conduct was a refreshing development.
Briefing newsmen in Abuja CDD Director said the center deployed 250 stationary and roving observers to keep a close eye on key processes in the election.
“It (the peaceful conduct) points the way away from the “degeneration” that has historically been the country’s sad experience with electoral outcomes, and towards outcomes that significantly reflect the mandate of the electorate.
“In this respect, the election potentially augurs well for the future of democracy and development in the country, particularly in view of the determination shown by the electorate to protect their mandate and ensure that it counted in the critical penultimate months to the election day.
According to her “In addition to the electorate, the credible outcome of the election was due to the activities of various strategic stakeholders, particularly the Independent National Electoral Commission, and to the pace-keeping efforts, the Oba of Benin and the Abdulsalam Abubakar led National Peace Committee, who worked and intervened firmly, under a very dire pre-election context that portended violent election conflicts.
Idayat Hassan warned against certain anomalies in the electoral process, which she believed if left unaddressed could turn the current episodes into a mirage that would evaporate, precipitating a reversal to the status quo ante of the country’s experience of seriously flawed electoral outcomes.
Speaking on other critical issues in the electoral process, the Centre identified the controversial modality used for selecting the governorship candidates of the two major political parties as a major cause of tension during the electioneering.
“The acrimony that resulted from it created serious intraparty fissures that cast an ominous pall over the peaceful conduct of the election.”
Another process issue was the political culture of a zero-sum approach to the competitive electoral process that tends to precipitate violent electoral conflict and to encourage the abuse of the power of incumbency for partisan party political advantage.
“A third factor was the general poverty in the state and the high unemployment rate, particularly among the youth, that provided a pool from which political parties and their candidates drew to corrupt the electoral process and to steal the people’s mandate.”
A fourth issue is a competent and effective administration and management of the election by INEC to generate trust in the conduct of the election.
A final issue is the conduct of the election during the COVID-19 pandemic, in view of the conduct implications for public health.”
The group also drew attention to the use of unethical non-conventional campaign strategies, which it emphasized helped to shape perception, delegitimize the process and actors. It also noted that hate speech instigated tensions and facilitated violence.
CDD further warned that the combination of vote-buying and insidious influence campaign is an emerging trend, which changes the pattern of votes without the electorate knowing they have been influenced.
On the performance of INEC, the report pointed at the malfunction of smart cards readers malfunctioned in a number of polling units, as a sticky issue, which would have to be dealt with in future elections.
It however acknowledged that the overall performance was smooth across the state. “Also most polling stations opened on time. We commend INEC for the introduction of the result viewing portal in improving transparency and accountability of the collation and declaration of results.
This has enhanced citizens’ trust in the electoral process. Generally, the COVID-10 Protocols that INEC outlined in its guidelines for the elections, particularly social distancing were not complied with. This has far-reaching health implications for the state,” it said.
To improve the conduct and credibility of future elections, CDD handed down a number of recommendations for electoral reforms, which it stressed were necessary to build on the gains of the election; and address some of the problems in the electoral process.
“The objective of such reform will strengthen electoral integrity and to more broadly promote sustainably good governance in the country to reinforce, and not separate it from, electoral reform, drawing on the experience of Edo.
It is clear from the Edo governorship election that, when encouraged and mobilized, citizens can serve as effective guardrail to securely protect electoral mandate from assault by anti-democracy elements.”
“Importantly we task INEC to concentrate on the dual purpose of implementing her protocol on conducting elections during COVID 19 and improved voter education program. This is broad tasks that must be implemented ahead of the forthcoming Ondo governorship elections.”
This specific recommendation made to a broad range of stakeholders by the Centre includes; the need to reform the country’s party system to strengthen internal party democracy.
CDD made the point that this is necessary as a mechanism to ensure open, transparent, inclusive, and democratic elections of party leadership and nomination processes for elective public political offices.
This measure is further stated would ensure that political parties pay more attention to the nomination of women and youths as candidates and have equal access to leadership opportunities within party organisations.
On the problem of extreme poverty and unemployment, which it noted was responsible for buying and selling of votes, called on government and citizens to push to encourage compliance with Chapter II of the Nigerian Constitution and achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in order to curb poverty in the country.
On his part, the Executive Director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Awual Ibrahim Rafsanjani, insisted that when the electoral process is commercialized, it becomes difficult for credible and competent people to contest and win elections in the country.