Elections: Group picks hole in INEC arrangements, offers solution

By Eric James Ochigbo

#TrackNigeria: Gender and Election Watch, an initiative of the Nigerian Women Trust Fund, has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure early arrival of staff and materials to polling units in subsequent elections.

In a statement on Sunday in Abuja, the Chief Executive Officer of the organisation, Mrs Mufuilat Fijabi, highlighted other areas where INEC ought to improve to ensure future fairer election outcome.

According to her, the measures should include the need for better training of ad hoc staff, particularly those handling the smart card reader machines.

Fijabi suggested to the commission to improve on crowd control in polling units with large voting population.

She also observed that INEC should educate voters through appropriate channels on how to identify polling units and points in the future.

She commended the gender mix of security agents, observers, accredited journalists, party agents and poll workers, advising INEC to sustain it.

Fijabi urged INEC personnel to also sustain the level of professionalism displayed on Saturday during the Presidential and National Assembly polls.

“It is also important for all Nigerians to continue to remain calm and conduct themselves in a peaceful manner, shunning all acts of violence’’, she advised.

The organisation deployed 290 observers across states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) for the general elections, observing the polls with a focus on ensuring the rights of female voters.

The organisation says it notices massive voter turnout across the country and how special consideration was given to people living with disabilities, nursing and pregnant women as well as the elderly.

It also notes that there were separate voter queues based on gender and effective deployment of security agents.

Fijabi, nonetheless, observed that while the election was generally peaceful, there were reported pockets of violence in some states.

The group says it identified some major areas of concern, including cases of malfunctioning of card readers in some polling units and poor crowd control in some polling units with large voting population.

It observes that some voters could not find their names on INEC voter register, in spite of having Permanent Voter’s Card and being at the right polling units.

It says some of the ad hoc staff did not have good working knowledge of the voting procedure and that in some polling units, there was no secrecy of the ballot while some of the polling units were not accessible to persons with disabilities.

The group commended the elderly for showing commitment in participating in the election as well as the number of younger voters’ turnout across the country.

It commended the provision of braille ballot guide for the visually impaired in some of the polling units, noting that although there were no magnifying glasses for those living with albinism in polling units the organisation visited.(NAN)

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