By Gift Samuel, The Sight News
Abuja-The Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) has decried widespread voter apathy in the just concluded Anambra elections, saying that it portends danger to the growth of Nigeria’s democracy.
On the other hand, the group commended the people of Anambra state for their determination to exercise their right to vote and the general peaceful atmosphere in which the election was held.
Speaking to newsmen on Wednesday in Abuja, the Chairperson, TMG, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi expressed concerns with the turnout figures, saying that it has failed to show any improvement from the 2013 state gubernatorial election and the subsequent one.
According to her, “Citizen participation is important and must be significantly improved upon, TMG therefore calls on political parties to seriously undertake issue based campaigning in order to connect and mobilize more voters to the poll”
She further congratulated Governor Willie Obiano on his victory and called on the citizens, political parties and candidates to accept the official results announced by the INEC.
Fielding questions from Journalists, on electoral malpractice, she stated that as long as impunity thrives when electoral malpractice happens, there is no way it can be stopped.
She said, “I think that INEC must see to it as a duty and CSOs must also see it as a duty and security agencies must actually deliberately work towards ensuring that we apprehend some people, use them as precedence so that next time people will not want to engage in electoral malpractice.
“Even if it is not stated strictly in the electoral law, we’ve also argued that there are a lot of things that can be implied directly from the electoral law to actually see that as an offence.It is something that can easily puncture the Democratic essence of even having to vote in the real sense”.
Also, the Vice Chairman, TMG, Okeke Anya stressed the need for the law enforcement agencies or the INEC to begin to work towards prosecuting those that make infractions as a way to deter new form of infractions.
“Until people begin to suffer the consequences of electoral malpractices, we will continue to see politicians device new means of trying to get their way . I think we need our law enforcement officials and INEC to deal more on these issues and not begin to feel that they are handicapped. They are not”.
On his part, the Zonal Cordinator, North Central, Dr. Arome Sadifu said that INEC needs to do more in terms of being able to ensure that other stakeholders like the security agencies are engaged in ensuring that they find a way of apprehending those people that are behind the act of sabotaging the electoral process.
While stating that the report was based on the analysis of information received from the TMG observation operations provided by its trained and deployed 150 domestic election deployed on Election Day in the Anambra State Governorship Elections of November 18, 2017, the group stressed that elections belong to the people and the citizens have the right to know whether elections honestly and accurately reflect the people’s will.
Noting that the campaign leading up to the polls was open and mostly free of violence and parties and candidates expressed a commitment to a peaceful process, TMG pointed out however that several of the old challenges and malpractices that have featured in elections since 1999 were again present in the election.
The Group further called on INEC to expeditiously address the root causes of the persistent logistical shortcomings in elections, for better and more secured future elections in particular, Osun, Ekiti and others and also urged political parties and candidates to refrain from future acts of voter inducement and spreading rumours and disinformation.
TMG is a member of the Global Network of Domestic Election Monitors (GNDEM), as well as the West African Election Observer Network