The West Africa Democracy Solidarity Network has called on the Federal Government to address the lingering fuel scarcity, ahead of general elections for smooth logistics delivery.
The WADEMOS team made the call in Abuja at the end of its solidarity mission to Nigeria, ahead of the general elections.
Kojo Asante, the Director of Advocacy and Policy Engagement, Ghana Centre for Democratic Development who spoke on behalf of the WADEMOS team, said the mission was in recognition of the shared democratic values by people across the ECOWAS sub-region.
Asante said the call became imperative for the government to tackle the fuel shortage to mitigate the effect it could have on the election.
He said that this was because it has the tendency of increasing voter apathy and turnout particularly for voters who would travel long distances to their polling stations.
He added that it also has implication for the movement of security personnel and patrol teams that would be deployed to provide security for the election.
Asante said that following initial debriefing by CDD-West Africa on developments around the elections, the mission met with an array of election stakeholders in Nigeria.
He said that some major observations by the mission and thereby made some recommendations.
“Major concerns were raised on the collection and issuance of PVCs, also, any large-scale malfunctioning of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) on Election Day could cause anxiety and panic among voters.
“Observations have been made about multiple security concerns that could significantly threaten the smooth conduct of the elections.
“Another issue of concern is around the deployment of materials and logistics ahead of the election; this fear is exacerbated by the current long-running incidence of fuel scarcity in the country.
“We strongly note the postponement of previous elections in Nigeria, partly due to logistical concerns,” he said.
Asante said that the WADEMOS team also noted some key issues in the media which included cyber bullying, hate speech and misinformation.
He said that the Peace Accord endorsed by all political parties and presidential candidates had been blatantly violated by political actors who chose to use insults, hate speech and personality attacks on opponents instead of focusing on campaign issues.
He said that to this end, WADEMOS made some recommendations urging the government to resist the temptation to abuse incumbency in its administration of the election and avoid election violence.
He also called on the government to ensure increased participation of women in politics and governance through affirmative policies and programmes.
Asante urged INEC to provide clarity on the electoral law which stipulated that the winner of the presidential race should attain majority of total votes and 25 per cent of votes in at least two-thirds of states in Nigeria and the FCT.
He said this was against the backdrop of multiple interpretations assigned to the law and expected competitiveness around the 2023 presidential race.
He called on INEC to consider further expanding the deadline for distribution of PVCs and also expedite the disbursement of the cards to all registered voters to avoid disenfranchising voters due to the proposed “No Verification No Vote” requirement for the election.
He said there should be commitment on the part of security agencies toward ensuring that known hotpots of violence and conflicts were prioritised for adequate security coverage and interventions ahead of the election and on Election Day.
Asante said security agencies should be properly equipped and adequately resourced to provide security for the election.
He added that security agents should respect and protect the rights of citizens especially media, voters, election staff and observers in general before, during and after the election.
He advised political leaders and parties to go about their political campaigns with a very high degree of responsibility towards ensuring that the sanctity and integrity of the electoral process was guaranteed.
He urged political parties and their candidates to eschew violence and avoid all forms of incitement as tools for mobilising and canvasing for votes among their supporters.
Asante called on CSOs to leverage on cooperation among themselves and with state institutions to champion participation and inclusion during the elections.
He urged the media to be on high alert to intercept and counter any instances of disinformation and misinformation particularly on the day of election and be apolitical and prone to the sensitivities surrounding this election in its reportage.
He urged ECOWAS, the AU and the international community to continue to monitor proceedings in the lead-up to the elections and maintain their support for free, credible and fair elections in Nigeria. (NAN)