The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has expressed concern over what it terms ‘unseriousness’ about election observation by some organisations accredited to observe elections.
Chairman of the Election and Party Monitoring Committee (EPMC) and National Commissioner, Mr. Sam Olumekun raised the concern during an Election Review Workshop, held in Abuja on Wednesday 31st August, 2022.
The EPMC Chairman noted that “while there are quite a number of trustworthy, honest, objective, hardworking and credible observer groups in the country and have contributed greatly to deepening democracy and the electoral process in Nigeria over the years, there are still others who have continued to be unserious about election observation and cared less about integrity”.
Represented by the Director of Voter Education and Publicity Department, Ayodele Aluko, the National Commissioner disclosed that the Commission has evidence of observer groups engaged in plagiarism in their report. He said “we observed a number of groups submitting similar reports. The Commission is concerned with this development and new measures will soon be unveiled to manage such elements within the election”.
He further lamented the low number of accredited observer groups who have submitted their reports since the conclusion of the Ekiti and Osun states governorship elections.
According to Mr. Olumekun, “by our records, out of the 88 accredited groups for Ekiti and Osun states governorship elections, 85 completed accreditation process and deployed about 9,830 field observers, for Ekiti and Osun.”
“Since the conduct of these elections, observer groups have been submitting their reports to the Commission but it is pertinent to note that out of the 88 accredited groups, only 25 reports have been received for Ekiti, while only 27 groups have submitted for Osun election so far”, he said.
The EPMC Chairman however, commended majority of the observer groups who he said have continued to deepen the electoral process through active participation in all aspects of the Commission’s activities and have continued to offer advice on areas deserving of improvements.”
“I also appreciate you all for the role you played in ensuring that the Electoral Act 2022 was signed. On behalf of the Commission, I acknowledge your resilience and your support throughout the process, he added”.
Mr. Olumekun implored all Civil Society Organisations to study the Electoral Act 2022 in order to gain the needed knowledge of the provisions that have changed the framework and dynamics of election management in the country.
He further hinted that the Commission will soon commence the process of engaging observer groups for the 2023 General Election, and advised that organisations who maybe interested in observing the General Election should apply at the right time, stressing that the Commission will not accommodate late applications.
The Director, Election and Party Monitoring Department (EPM), Aminu Idris urged the Observer groups who were yet to submit their report to do so. He said the Commission needed to study and review the reports for improvements before the general election next year.
The Director underscored the critical role observers play in the electoral process, stressing that their reports are considered valuable tools to assess the performance of the electoral body.