Tue. Apr 16th, 2024

Maureen Okpe

The Initiative for Research and Advocacy in Development (IRIAD)-the Electoral Hub, has called on security agencies and relevant stakeholders to make conscious effort to ensure credible general elections that is free of violence.

The organisation made the call on Tuesday, during a policy round table, organised in collaboration with Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), with theme, Citizens Rights and Impact of Insecurity on the 2023 General Elections, in Abuja.

It’s Executive Director, Princess Hamman-Obels noted that the current situation of insecurity and cash scarcity has created tension in many region of the country, stating this has created a need for stakeholders to stem the tide with actionable recommendations that guide security before the polls.

Hamman-Obels also, called for voters sensitization and education, as this will enable electorates make informed decision on the out come of election results.

According to her, “we need to start thinking of how we can mitigate any possibility of violence, engage at a deeper level of voters education, to educate the public on how winners emerge, constitutional requirements before one is declared a winner of election either for a governor or a president.

“A need for an indepth voter education as to how result are collated and winners emerge, also to look at other factors that contribute to insecurity other structural violence that people experience, example the differential in gender treatment.

“This election is going to be a water shed election, a lot of things are happening, for a very long time this is the first time we are seeing what looks like a very tight race, besides this there are other indices. We are talking about current happenings, the fuel and currency scarcity, alot of other indices including the fact that there is a threat of voters suppression, general insecurity about the country what will this be for the election, will this affect it or not.

“Insecurity situation and the election is very critical and it is something that we should consider, this is timely now because the election is a few days away.It calls for more reflection, looking at how we can be more conscious effort in terms of security to provide guide, to see how we can come up with actionable recommendations that can guide security during the election.

“This is the reason why we are having this discussion after a proper research to see how we can make recommendation that can guide not just INEC, but everyone as preparation for election is not only for INEC.

Presenting the research findings, Dr. Plangsat Dayil, Politcal Science Department and Gender Center, University of Jos noted that a large number of persons are concerned about the spate of insecurity and how it might affect the electoral processes.

Dayil said, different sectors had their peculiar issues identified, stating, for “Persons With Disability, they feel when things go violent it will be difficult for them to escape so the best thing is not to vote. They also talked about accessibility to polling units as they will be no movement during the days of election and because of mobility and assistance at the polling unit there might not be there.The absence of ramp, sign language interpreter, general assistive devices for PWD and also stigmatization may disenfranchise PWDs.

“For women, they feel there is a particular targeting and attack especially in the political parties that are ongoing, as some have been threaten physically and verbally and their candidature have been threaten, this has affected their campaign, in the pre-election.Alot of bullying as some will challenge them to leave politics for the men with thugs sent to issue warnings to steer clear.

“For the youth it’s more of fear of violence as no known strategy have been announced that will take this effect. Also the issue of profiling by the security personnel and the fear of a possible repeat of the ENDSARS scenario.

“Even the security personnel that will be working at the polling units, also expressed fear of the likelihood of violence erupting, as they are not allowed to the units with arms, and this left me amazed as if the security personnel expected to secure people are scared then who is assured of safety

“We believe that a large chunk of people might be disenfranchised if they are not moved away from believing that there might be violence, we also have a category of those who are displaced, the IDPs as some of them registered elsewhere and may not have the privilege to go back to their original polling unit.

“The number of polling units multiplied by those working during election, including the security personnel, we will be looking at about a million, this is a huge number that can swing elections results to a positive favour.

On his part, Senior Research Fellow, Center for Democracy and Development, Prof. Adele Jinadu stated that, the high expectations for a free and fair elections is as a result of insecurity already been experienced.

Jinadu said, “we need to have some kind of a conceptual framework which we can say that beyond this level of security we are moving into insecurity. What we are looking at now is that, are we at that level now where we are concerned about the level of insecurity and the answer is yes.

“Yes, because our insecurity is characterised by what I regard as anarchical society, where life is becoming nasty and short. Law and order has not been effectively used to protect the citizens. Banditry, insurgency is the failure of the state to provide the level of security that will make Nigerians feel secured.

Speaking further he said, looking at the preparation of INEC for the elections, we need to separate what INEC has been doing, and since 2011 they have been doing their very best to prepare for election, learning lessons from one election circle to the order, what has not changed is the environment in which elections are conducted and that is not in the control of INEC.

“We should be concerned whether INEC is prepared but be more concerned in what we can do to improve the environment in which election are being conducted because it is beyond the control of INEC but it is within our control as citizens to force government to comply with chapter two of our constitution which spelt out the condition for human security.

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