Poll shift: Be truthful with Nigerians about your challenges, Civil Society groups tell INEC

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…. Express disappointment over postponement

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A coalition of over 70 civil society organisations (CSOs) has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to be transparent with Nigerians on the challenges it faced that might affect election conduct.

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The CSOs, under the auspices of the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, made the call in a statement made available on Saturday in Abuja.

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The Convener of the group, Mr Clement Nwankwo, who signed the statement, expressed concern over the commission’s election logistic challenges that led to the postponement of the general elections.

The INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, had on Saturday morning announced the decision of the commission to shift the election by a week.

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Yakubu, who shifted the Presidential and National Assembly elections from February 16 to Febryary 23, also postponed the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly polls from March 2 to March 9.

Nwankwo, who expressed disappointment over the development, said ”INEC owed it a duty to Nigerians to provide clear explanation on why we are having conversations about deployment of materials in this late hour.”

”The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room hereby expresses concern over reports of delay in the distribution of election materials in several parts of the country by INEC for the 2019 Nigeria General Elections.

”Reports reaching Situation Room indicate inadequacy in the deployment of materials for the polls.

”Against the background of assurances given by INEC on its preparedness, this current situation comes to us as a disappointment.

”Situation Room calls on INEC to be upfront, truthful and transparent with the Nigerian people with respect to the challenges they are facing that may affect the polls.

”The Situation Room wishes to state categorically that any assessment or decision by INEC regarding the polls or challenges with materials must be made with respect to the whole country and not in any way focused on some parts of the country,” he sad.

He stressed that any suggestion that the election be held in a staggered manner would ”be totally unacceptable, and would be a recipe for a disastrous election.”

”The credibility of election depends not just on the efficiency of INEC to manage its processes but also in its ability to communicate honestly with the stakeholders,” he said.

Nwankwo, who is also the Executive Director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), therefore, called on all stakeholders, ”especially the political parties to approach any challenge this process throws up with patriotism and commitment to peaceful and legal resolution of conflicts”.

The Situation Room, which is made up of CSOs working in support of credible and transparent elections in Nigeria, includes such groups as CLEEN Foundation, Action Aid Nigeria, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Enough is Enough Nigeria, Wangonet, CITAD, Partners for Electoral Reform, JDPC, and Proactive Gender Initiative.

Others are Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement (YIAGA),CWAE, NISD.Others are Development Dynamics, HumanRights Monitor, Election Monitor, Community Life Project/Reclaim Naija, Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Alliance for Credible Election (ACE), Stakeholder Democracy Network (SDN), Nigerian Women Trust Fund, WREP, and several other CSOs numbering more than seventy.

*Photo: Clement Nwankwo

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