By Collins Nnabuife/Nigerian Tribune
Nigeria’s Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) has explained how the country can adopt some lessons from the recent presidential election in Liberia, to strengthen its electioneering process.
The National Chairman of IPAC, Engr Yabagi Yusuf, while briefing journalists during the weekend after his arrival from Monrovia, Capital of Liberia said the reason they embarked on Election Observer Mission (EOM) was to avail the Council an opportunity to learn, compare and contrast the experiences between what obtains in Nigeria and those countries.
He said the IPAC-EOM to Liberia, had four members who were sponsored by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
“They have a situation room in place many weeks before the election to track activities on campaigns and trouble spots.
“They have a well equipped call center where calls on complaints from any part of the country are monitored 24/7. Police, immigration and other security officials are stationed in the Situation room.
“On the day before the general election, Eminent Women of Africa in collaboration with other groups organised peace rallies across the country.
“On election day, developments are monitored and tracked as they happen, including details of the proceedings of the election in the polling units.
“We have taken time to emphasize the admirable role of the Eminent Women/Women situation room for the candor and discipline displayed by the citizens in spite of the election frenzy. The situation room was set up long before the election day and this contributed in building confidence and a peaceful atmosphere.
“Tension and violence that are often associated with politics and elections in most African and emerging democracies were insignificant. We observed that the citizenry were very much enlightened on keeping peace, reason and need to vote and on issues at play.
“Enlightenment wasn’t just about voters’ education but awareness of the environment, action and inactions and rule of law. This is worthy of emulation.”
The IPAC Chairman further stated that the few rallies they attended were peaceful, as party men and women were excited with their party affairs.
He said excited members and party supporters on uniforms, t-shirts and different attires and caps branded in party or candidates slogan/names, but thugs.
Yusuf said on the election day, each poll station had an average of 7 polling units, and as early as 8.30am when they arrived at the first one the turnout was huge where officers and party agents were all present.
“The same thing with the 9 polling stations we observed. Even under the sun and in two cases rain, people stood on the cue waiting for their turn.
“The list of voters and their pictures were displayed on the walls of the area where the stations were located. Also the pictures of each contestant and his/her name were on the ballot papers unlike in Nigeria.
“While this looks good, considering the sheer number of contestants and ever changing list of candidates due to court orders, this may not be an option for our country for now.
“There were two main contestants viz; the sitting President George Weah of CDC and Joseph Bogai of the Unity Party. There were 22 other candidates for the presidency.
“The October 10 elections availed voters the opportunity to elect a President, 15 Senators and 73 Members of the House of Representatives. Of the country’s 5.4 million population, 2,471,617 voters were certified by the National Elections Commission (NEC) in the Final Registration Roll (FRR) to vote in 5,890 polling places.
“There were Thirty-one political parties who nominated 1,128 candidates for different offices, while 195 independent candidates contested in several polls.
“President George Weah, who is seeking a second term, had 43.8% of the vote with his main challenger Joseph Boakai at 43.4%, according to the National Elections Commission. A candidate needs more than 50% of the vote to win.
“Due to the fact that both major candidates were unable to receive a majority in the first round, a runoff will be held on 7th November 2023.
One of the reasons why IPAC embarked on this Election Monitoring Mission to Liberia is the urgency to sensitize and mobilize Africa Election management bodies to begin to work assiduously towards reversing democratic downturn in Africa”.
He said in the coming days, IPAC will commence collaboration with other Nigerians political stakeholders to engender in our people a firm commitment to democracy and nation-building by upholding national values such as patriotism, integrity and public interest in electoral politics.
“Partnering with INEC to undertake a comprehensive audit of the voter register to eliminate duplications, multiple registrants and ineligible voters to improve the integrity of the voter register.
“Working with the National Assembly and INEC to amend the electoral legal framework (Electoral Act and INEC Guidelines) to introduce early voting to allow eligible voters on essential election duties, such as security personnel, INEC staff, election observers, journalists, etc., to vote at elections.
“Work with the National Assembly to review the Electoral Act to address the ambiguities in the results collation and transmission process and the role of technology in the results management value chain.
“Ensure that the National Assembly strengthens the electoral law to make electronic transmission of results mandatory, including the upload of polling unit-level results and results sheets used at different levels of results collation.
“Mobilize the citizenry to be vigilant with the National Assembly to ensure our elected representatives hold firm commitment to democracy and nation-building by upholding national values such as patriotism, integrity and public interest in law making and electoral politics”, Engr Yusuf added.