Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) says the integrity of ward-level collation during election is key to its success.
Idayat Hassan, Director of CDD, made the remark on Thursday in Abuja during the organisation’s release of its postmortem report on the 2019 election collation.
She pointed out that the collation of election results at the ward level was one of the most vulnerable parts of the country’s election process.
“The integrity of this collation process is critical to the overall success and creativity of Nigerian election.
“If conducted in a transparent, organised and well-regulated way, collection can help produce credible election results and boost voter confidence in the process,” she said.
Hassan, however, said that in the 2019 polls, civil society observers across Nigeria saw a collation process that was chaotic, open to manipulation and in some locations badly disrupted and opaque.
She described ward-level collation as “an important vulnerability that receives little domestic scrutiny or international attention.”
Hassan, who hinted that CDD deployed 8, 809 INEC-accredited ward-level observers to polling units across Nigeria in the last election, identified challenges ward-level collation faced.
She said these include deliberate denial of access to observers and media, logistical shortfalls, intimidation of collation staff, intentional disruption by politicians, political thugs and party agents, among others.
According to her, states like Lagos, Osun, Kaduna, Rivers and Sokoto experienced significant problems with the ward-level collation in the last election.
The director said if left unresolved, Nigeria’s widespread ward-level collation problems would continue to embolden election spoilers, weaken public trust in INEC and undermine the credibility of election results.
She urged INEC to improve processes for conducting collation in line with international best practices.
Hassan, who called on the electoral umpire to discipline and, if necessary, prosecute its personnel alleged to have been involved in misconduct during collation process, said security agencies should also hold their officers accountable for unprofessional misconduct.
Earlier, the CDD Chair, Dr Kole Shettima, said though CDD provided analysis for the last election, it was time to focus on one of the major issues in the electoral process.
He said the report was to point out some of the organisation’s observations and see how the country’s electoral process can be improved on by focusing on the collation process.