For the first time in a long while, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and other security agencies have become the toast of a cross section of Nigerians, following the peaceful conduct of last Saturday’s governorship election which took place in Edo State.
Prominent Nigerians, yesterday, eulogised the election management body and all the security agencies that took part in the election, describing their performance as satisfactory and the opening of a fresh chapter in the history of electoral contests in the country.
Former Head of State and Chairman of the National Peace Committee (NPC), General Abdusalami Abubakar (rtd), praised the performance of INEC and the various security agencies for their conduct during the governorship election and also congratulate the people of Edo State on the outcome of the election.
Gen. Abubakar, who presided over the peace accord signed by the chairmen and candidates of the 14 political parties that participated in the election, said he was glad that the election was conducted in a peaceful manner.
The former Head of State said: “On behalf of the members of the NPC, I wish to congratulate the good people of Edo State on the peaceful conduct of their elections in which a winner has emerged. “Nigerians appreciate the exemplary sacrifice, decorum and courage that you showed allaying the earlier fears that preceded the elections. I appeal to Nigerians across the board to emulate your conduct.
“I want to congratulate the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu and his team, the Inspector General of Police, other security agencies, and civil society groups for doing such an excellent job and making great sacrifices.
It is our prayer that every election will bring us closer to peace.” He urged the winner of the election, Governor Godwin Obaseki, to repay the people of Edo State with good governance, justice and equity.
A former Provost Marshal of the Nigerian Army, Brig-Gen. Idada Ikponmwen (rtd), also applauded the peaceful conduct of the election and attributed it to the way and manner INEC and the security agencies approached the assignment. Ikponmwen acknowledged that though there were some reports of violence in some locations, the atmosphere was generally
peaceful throughout the election period. Ikponmwen also had some kind words for the electoral umpire over the conduct of its officials in the election, but said that the final assessment of the outcome of the polls should be left to the candidates and political parties who took part in the contest.
“So far, I have not heard any complaint from the people about the performance of INEC in this election. Before the election, there were some people who said they couldn’t trust INEC, but I’ve not seen anyone coming out to say INEC did not do well. So this is my take for now unless new facts emerge on the issue,” he said.
A former Commissioner of Police in charge of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mr. Lawrence Alobi, as well as a former State Director of the Department of State Services (DSS), Mr. Mike Ejiofor, also gave their assessments of the performance of security operatives during the keenly-contested poll.
The two security experts were unanimous in applauding their colleagues in the services. They said that the professional disposition of security operatives, may have guaranteed the outcome of the poll. While underscoring the need for the gains to be sustained, Alobi said: “They did very well.
The taste of the pudding lies in the eating. You can see the result; the outcome of the election. “You know, security is key in an election for it to be credible, for it to be peaceful.
And I’m happy that the police as the lead agency, did all the planning, mobilised. “Everybody is applauding the security agencies and Mr. President for doing well. I think we should maintain this tempo.”
On his part, Ejiofor said the electorate deserves more commendation, in the face of what he said was “intimidation”. He said: “Police have done their job quite alright; I must commend them. “But, when people are attributing it to non-interference by Mr. President, that is where I have disagreement with them.
“What it means is that the President had been interfering, which I also don’t want to believe, because the President is not in the field. “So far, I will commend the Police and other security agencies for the outcome of Edo election.
But, more commendation would go to the people. Because, hey resisted all forms of intimidation,” Ejiofor said. The Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), an election observation group, also scored INEC and security agencies high in the conduct of the election.
Chairperson of TMG, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, said there was a notable efficiency in INEC logistics, even though there were some challenges.
She listed the challenges to include late arrival of election officials and materials in some polling units, resulting in late commencement of the election processes; difficulties in the authentication of some registered voters due to malfunctioning of smart card readers, as well as cases of voting irregularities.
The group commended INEC for the novel method deployed during the collation of election results, saying collation had always been problematic during previous elections. It observed that vote counting and result declaration at the polling units were done without much hitches.
“Counting and sorting of ballots were done openly in the presence of party agents, security personnel and election observers in most cases and the announced results were sent to the INEC portal and also displayed in conspicuous places for people to see. This enhances the credibility of the polls. “Security was fairly adequate in most places.
This provided the confidence that most voters required to come out to vote. “TMG is of the opinion that the election was relatively well executed and largely free and fair. The lapses observed were consistent with our experiences in previous elections,” it stated. The Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA), another election monitoring group, said that on the average,
INEC had improved on its processes and election day logistics as Electoral Officers and materials arrived between 8:30a.m. and 9a.m. in most polling units. Executive Director, CTA, Faith Nwadishi disclosed that reports from field officers indicated that on the average, voter accreditation and voting commenced at about 9a.m. and in some cases, earlier.
“We note with satisfaction, the tremendous improvement in the performance of INEC officials during this election. Our observers witnessed INEC officials briefing voters on voting procedures and COVID- 19 protocols. Observers also noted the cooperation extended to election observers,” Nwadishi said.