The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has countered the European Union Election Observation Mission (EUEOM) over its final report on the 2023 general elections in Nigeria.
The EU observer mission while; presenting its final report on the last general elections in the country on Tuesday; identified six key areas for improvement in Nigeria’s electoral process moving forward.
INEC, however, described as “unfair” the EU observers’ final report on its overall performance; during the February 25 and March 11 general elections conducted in Nigeria.
“It is not fair to judge the entire performance of the commission; on the basis of a glitch in the result upload for the presidential election,” INEC said.
One of the six priority areas that the EU observers want INEC to improve on, according to the report, is the electoral body’s inability to upload results.
But INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, said the “glitch in downloading the presidential election result” was; not a solid reason to judge the electoral body’s performance during the polls.
Speaking on Channels Television, Okoye argued that one good thing was; that the law empowers political parties to know what goes on at the polling units.
“Almost all the political parties nominated and got accredited at least over 170,000 polling agents. What that means is; that they had primary evidence of the results from the polling units,” he said.
“It is those results from the polling units, together with the BVAS as a machine itself, that goes to the collation centre.
“So, it is not true for a political party to rely only on results uploaded in order; to get the evidence with which it wants to prosecute its case in court,” Okoye explained.
Okoye recalled that the public had; actually heaped praise on INEC for the deployment of Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) in the general election.
In the area of voter accreditation, the INEC commissioner maintained that nobody has; faulted the functionality of BVAS and that the electoral body would; holistically look at the reports by the mission and other observer groups.
“We are going to harmonize all the reports by international bodies that have been; presented and we are going to look at the reports holistically.
“From the report presented, the EU made mention of the fact that there have been; significant improvements in our electoral process and there have been; so many positives to this particular election.
“One of the positives is that we registered over 93 million Nigerians during this election. Not only that. If you look at the reports submitted by international observers, in terms of voter accreditation, the BVAS performed optimally.”
Okoye admitted that there were also a few challenges. He stated further that in looking at those challenges, one must look at the context and the environment of the election.
“Insecurity was in some parts of the country, which we cannot dispute. Secondly, violence was targeted toward our staff members and some other Nigerians. Fuel scarcity and naira re-design also were challenges.
“Recommendations have been made on administrative and legal issues and we are going to harvest them and implement them.”
In the final report, the EU Observation Mission said the general election in the country exposed enduring systemic weaknesses while demanding far-reaching reforms in the legal and operational framework of Nigeria’s electoral process.
According to the Mission Chief Observer, Barry Andrews, who unveiled the report, the shortcomings in “law and electoral administration” hindered the entire conduct of the general elections.