State of the Nation – by Democracy Watch Group (DWG)

No Comments » January 7th, 2015 posted by // Categories: Elections 2015



 

07/01/2015
STATE OF THE NATION
2015 GENERAL ELECTIONS, DEMOCRACY IN DANGER

Good day Patriots and Gentlemen of the Press, the Democracy Watch Group (DWG), a Coalition of civil society organizations involved in electoral advocacy, welcomes you all to this world press conference on the state of our beloved country at this auspicious time.
We have resolved to patriotically add our voice in highlighting the dangers confronting our democracy and which can be averted only if we do the right things in view of the coming 2015 general elections, which are some few weeks away.
 
·         Permanent Voters Card (PVC) and Continuous Voters Registration (CVR)
The Democracy Watch Group (DWG) notes with concern the hiccups trailing the collection of PVC in most states of the federation which has the consequence of disenfranchising millions of voters in violation of the constitution.
We are very much aware that INEC has made it unambiguously clear that possession of the Permanent Voters Card (PVC) is the basic requirement for voters to exercise their franchise on election days. This is due to the fact that the E-Card reader is going to be deployed for that purpose.
From reports monitored by our observers on the field, the media and other sources, INEC has performed woefully as a result of poor organization. On collection dates, in most states of the federation, the exercise was characterized by almost total absence of INEC officials at the polling units on the first day and lateness in arrival on other days. It has been tales of woes and anguish as Nigerians turned up on collection dates at polling units and other designated collection points as directed by INEC, only to realize that their names were missing from the register, in some areas, polling units became zero units as a result of corruption of the electoral body data which wiped out voters data on the system. Non appearance of INEC personnel in some polling units left the electorates confused about their status due to poor information management.
Despite the fact, that the collection of PVC is still ongoing at the INEC offices in the local government’s headquarters across the country or at designated points till January 31st 2015, reports have it that millions of people are yet to get their PVC with less than 6 weeks to the general elections.
The poor distribution of PVC by INEC, unfortunately has pitched the electoral body not only against the citizenry who have become frustrated, but also against states governments, some of whom have threatened legal actions, e.g. Kano, Kaduna, Imo, Rivers, Niger, etc.
To emphasize the shoddiness of the handling of the exercise, even the Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, Mr. Kayode Idowu admitted when he said that ”in some states, it is not actually a case of missing voters’ cards; it is the problem of the cards not being fully delivered by printers.Other states that experience hitches in various degrees are Kaduna, Kano, Edo, Plateau, Ogun, Imo, Borno, Rivers, Lagos, Nasarawa, Katsina and Niger”.
Therefore, in view of the noted lapses of INEC and the constitutional danger of disenfranchising the electorates, the Democracy Watch Group (DWG) hereby calls on the electoral body to immediately give a marching order to its States Resident Electoral Commissioners (REC) and Electoral Officers (E. O.) of the local governments to put in place Community Based Machineries to ease the distribution of the PVC to eligible voters across the country now!.
·         Continuous Voters Registration (CVR)
The DWG also notes with concern the shoddy Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) exercise by INEC which was characterized by malfunctioning and inadequate data capturing machines, inadequate personnel, lack of public power supply to power the systems as well as the short time frame allotted to the process.
Based on observations and reports received from our people on the field and members of the public, we are very much aware that lots of Nigerians were not captured in the exercise because of the large turnout of registrants which INEC was unable to cope with. We are also pained by the fact that the lapses noted above was also responsible for disenfranchising a large percentage of persons who have presently attained the age of 18 years and others who were not previously captured in the last exercise of 2011. A lot of voters whose polling units became zero units as a result of the loss of data by INEC were unable to register because of the large turnout and shortage of personnel and machines by the electoral body.
In view of the above, the Democracy Watch Group (DWG) hereby calls on INEC to immediately make availableSpecific Days and Date for registration of voters nationwide, within which all registered voters would have collected their PVC without prejudice to the provisions of the law, but in consonance with the doctrine of necessity.
 
·                  INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS (IDPS)
The events in the North East of Nigeria, has created refugees in Nigeria and neighbouring countries like Cameroun, Niger and Chad who are now in various camps. No doubt, we are aware that INEC is trying to accommodate the IDPS in Abuja in the 2015 general elections, but we are yet to hear or receive reports of provisions from the electoral body for those Nigerians displaced into Cameroun, Niger and Chad or has their citizenship been seceded to their host countries like the Bakassi people?
·         E-CARD READER
We are also aware of the intention of INEC to deploy card reader for the general election in order to curb abuses of the process. We are quite aware that this same technology was deployed for elections in Ghana and it failed which is a source of concern for us.
In view of this observation, DWG hereby calls on INEC to conduct a test run of the E-Card reader in the 6 geo political zones of the country before the elections proper.
We also want to call on INEC to ensure adequate training of its personnel who are going to be deployed to use the card reader and other electoral activities.
·         Transfer of Resident Electoral Commissioners (REC)
The DWG notes with concern the recent transfer of Resident Electoral Commissioners across the states of the federation by the electoral body as part of measures to ensure credible general elections in February 2015.
We are not oblivious of the pros and cons of such exercise in view of our political history, but we want to make it clear to all and sundry, that the conduct of a free, fair and credible election goes beyond the electoral body alone but the cooperation and collaboration of other stakeholders who must patriotically and consciously play their role, most especially the citizenry, who must realize that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.
·         Provocative and Inciting Statements by Politicians
The Democracy Group Watch (DWG) condemns in strong terms, the provocative, hate and inciting speeches that is capable of threatening public peace and tranquility as uttered by the political class ahead of the 2015 general elections and calls on the security agencies to be up and doing with regards to their constitutional responsibilities.
We want to admonish the political class to eschew bitterness and politics of violence, but rather concentrate their campaigns on issues confronting the Nigerian state in accordance with the political parties code of conduct signed with INEC.
We also want to alert the Nigerian people to discountenance any politician, his/her party or supporters who have focused attack on personalities rather than on issues.
Conclusion:
It is an indisputable fact, that the people are the centre focus of any democracy for it to be legitimate, therefore, if the peoples cry, demand and desire are that they want to partake in the election, it behooves on INEC to do all within its powers to ensure the active participation of all eligible Nigerians in the process by making the PVC available for collection or adopt any other acceptable means in line with the doctrine of necessity, option A4 being the preferred alternative.
In conclusion, we hereby demand from INEC, the following on behalf of the Nigerian voters and lovers of democracy before the 31st day of January:
1.    That all eligible voters must have been registered and have their PVC
2.    That the E-Card reader must be seen to be test run all over Nigeria or at most in some selected areas in the 6 geo political zones of Nigeria in order to avoid the Ghanaian experience.
3.    That INEC should apply sanctions as provided by the law and adherence to the spirit of code of conduct on all politicians who engage in character assassination and hate speeches.
The failure of INEC to meet up with these demands within the stipulated time of 31st day of January 2015, means that it has failed in this project in which it has taken Nigeria through and the only alternative left is the option A4 voting system.
Anything short of ensuring that all eligible voters exercise their franchise during the 2015 general elections will amount to a violation of the constitutional rights of Nigerians as well as endangering democracy.
A word is enough for the wise.
Thanks,
Yours Sincerely,
Barr. Wale Ogunade                                                                           Nelson Ekujumi
Chairman                                                                                             Gen. Secretary
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