Independent National Electoral Commission,
27 March 2023
A FORMAL SUBMISSION TO INEC ON THE 2023 ELECTIONS – The IPAC Position
The Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) wishes to restate its desire and deep commitment to working with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and all Agencies responsible for coordinating and conducting elections as part of the processes to mainstream and entrench democracy in Nigeria for good governance and sustainable economic development. This, in fact, could be a life-saving mission for our great country.
The Council notes that, in line with the above, it has always dialogued with the leadership of INEC and supported the Commission in respect of its projects and responsibilities. IPAC has been consistent in expressing its solidarity and support, both privately and publicly, to the leadership of INEC before, during and after the 2023 General Elections essentially to build goodwill and confidence in the electoral process.
The Council, at its General Assembly of the 23rd of March 2023, commended Nigerians for their active participation in the 2023 General Elections, the seventh since the return to democracy in 1999, noting that the right of the people to choose their leaders is the bedrock of constitutional rule and that the ballot is sacrosanct and must reflect the will and mandate of the electorates in a credible free, fair, and peaceful election.
The Council is convinced that a close collaboration with INEC and other critical stakeholders is very essential in the strengthening Electoral process and deepening democracy in the country and is conscious of the challenges of INEC in modernising the Electoral process through the introduction of new techniques and technologies, new electoral laws and regulations, upgrade of the voters’ registration processes, and training of personnels.
Consequent on the above, the Council, has therefore, resolved to bring the following underlisted issues to the direct attention of the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC):
- That the Council will resist any attempt to subvert the people’s mandate freely given to any Political Party and its candidates and urges Stakeholders in the electoral process to respect the wish of the people as sovereignty resides in them.
- The Council charges INEC to sit up and take its Constitutional duty seriously to avoid the preventable glitches and hitches with its Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and INEC Result Viewing portal (IReV) that questioned its readiness or faithfulness to conduct the elections and authenticity of results declared in the 2023 Presidential, National Assembly, Governorship and State Assembly elections.
- The Council condemns in strong terms violence, killings, arson, kidnapping of electoral officers, intimidation, and suppression of voters that characterized the 2023 General Election. They are outrageous, despicable, and unacceptable in the quest for sustainable democracy in Nigeria.
- The Council has noticed that vote buying, snatching of ballot papers and boxes remain the bane of the nation’s electoral process, in spite of the presence of INEC, security agents, and polling Agents at each polling station.
- The Council has noted that the integrity of the Commission continues to be at stake each time it conducts flawed elections, while the expectations of Nigerians are getting higher and the collective resolve to build a strong, virile, united, progressive is getting frustrated.
- The Council notes that despite the well-intentioned efforts of the INEC leadership, reports on the 2023 General Elections from local, regional, and international sources have shown that the elections fell short of the hopes and expectations of the people, and therefore, the attention of the Independent National Electoral Commission is being specifically called to the following:
a) There are evidence of unfair and unequal treatment against political parties, candidates, and electorates during the just concluded 2023 elections.
b) The Commission, in effect, failed on its efforts to improve electoral processes as it could not produce an election that was free of irregularities across the federation.
c) The elections were fraught with fraud including vote buying with the involvement of serving INEC Commissioner and other INEC officials, stealing of ballot boxes and destruction of ballot papers, illegal thumb printing of ballot papers by INEC ad hoc staff, violent disruption, killing of party opponents and general voters’ suppression.
d) Elections irregularities and disorders have greatly damaged the credibility of INEC, weakened the trust of political parties, the public and international bodies in INEC, and left many candidates across the federation with complaints of stolen or misappropriated mandates.
e) Political parties are dissatisfied that INEC ignored their complaints and requests for review of elections and/or results in accordance with the current Electoral Act.
f) That INEC officials used their positions to perpetrate and manipulate election results in favour of prearranged candidates, while ad hoc staff hired by INEC only responded to their “masters” amidst prevalent allegations of bribery and corruption against Resident Electoral Commissioners and other INEC Officials.
g) There was glaring evidence of lack of discipline or inadequate training on the part of INEC officials, and security agents who were unable to manage the electoral processes to ensure fairness, or peace, and could not eschew corrupt practices.
h) INEC should have been more flexible in the upload and/or replacement of candidates and the upload of the party Agents but it ended with abrupt cut-off schemes and hazard or incomplete Agents’ Tags with multiple errors.
i) INEC should have scanned the Polling Unit election results into the BVAS immediately after the completion of the voting exercise, and uploaded these onto the IReV platform as soon as electronic connections became available but ended in uploading arbitrarily and erroneously in many cases.
j) INEC, as the umpire organisation, should not have involved itself in unnecessary litigations with political parties and candidates, but became dragged into making unwarranted appeals against valid and worthy judgements won by Candidates at various courts.
- Despite the cordial working relationship between INEC and IPAC, the Council has noted with grave concern that INEC has deliberately worked against the interest of some political parties, or candidates and the public for reasons best understood by the INEC leadership or its diverse and divergent structures.
- The Council demands a review of the entire structure of the Electoral Administration System including the process in appointing INEC Commissioners, INEC Resident Electoral Commissioners and a gamut of INEC ad hoc Officials to ensure competence and loyalty and commitment to justice, fairness and adherence to discipline and rules and regulations of the electoral process.
- The Council demands that the Commission must be transparent and upright enough to uphold its neutrality and integrity as the electoral umpire and to discharge its duties without fear or favour as it will be held responsible and accountable.
- The Council urges the Judiciary to be decisive and to uphold the rule of law in adjudicating on various election petitions to restore stolen or misappropriated mandates to sustain the sanctity of the ballot box.
- The Council demands immediate prosecution of electoral offenders and their sponsors to serve as a deterrent to those who desire to subvert the will of the people, and to sanitize the country’s electoral processes and curb voter apathy.
- The Council recommends that, in future, INEC should consider not only its operational needs but those of Political Parties and therefore operate with officials who can work round the clock not just during election periods but during active preliminary preparation stages and should run its schedules based on working days and not calendars days.
- The Council also recommends that political parties under the aegis of IPAC should be integrated into the electoral sensitization and voter’s advocacy programmes of the commission to achieve a paradigm shift from electoral violence, vote trading and other attitudinal problems encountered in the just concluded elections.
- The Council demands that Electoral officers within the commission or in temporary service found to have compromised the system at any stage should be publicly prosecuted to serve as a deterrent.
- The Council demands that factors or parameters for evaluation or analysis of political parties should not include the party’s performance in the 2023 elections since INEC itself failed in conducting a free and fair election.
Finally, the Council will continue to act in various ways to deepen our democracy, ensuring an environment conducive for successful elections and sustainable democracy in Nigeria.
Thank you for your attention.
Engr. Yabagi Yusuf Sani,
National Chairman, IPAC