By Ismail Auwal
Barely hours after the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, declared the winner of the Anambra State 2021 gubernatorial election, foremost civil society election observation organisation in Nigeria, the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), has called for the improvement of election equipment.
The group, on Wednesday, also urged the leadership of the security agencies to investigate and charge to court all security operatives who engaged in violation of human rights, and gross misconduct during the election.
Chairman of the group, Comrade Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, noted that the pre-election season which witnessed a lot of violence that marred campaign rallies of the various parties in parts of the State, eventually led to low voter turn out, an omen he said is bad for “our democracy”.
“Earlier, the atmosphere of the election was tensed with anxiety. Anambarians became confused and undecided just because the Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB)
has threatened the election not to hold and the heavy presence of security made residents become scared to come out to vote.
“The stand of the IPOB and the strong presence of security operatives had an effect on how voters came out to exercise their franchise,” Rafsanjani said.
The TMG boss, however, called on government to stand up to the challenges of insecurity in the country, so that the 2023 election will not witness voters’ apathy, as was the case in Anambra.
Rafsanjani also lamented the poor functioning of the Bi-modal Voter Accreditation Machine, BVAM and Card Readers of INEC, which frustrated voters across the 21 local government area of the State.
“It is shocking that despite the consistent statement by INEC that the card readers were all set for the elections, we still witnessed a high rate of poor connection of the card readers in various part of the state.
“TMG appeals to INEC to live up to the task of providing a smooth elections for Nigerians in the 2023 general elections which will be cumbersome and overstretch the electoral empire,” he said.
The TMG boss, while observing that vote-buying was the business of the day during the guber poll, said “Voters were seen selling their votes for as low as N2000. In some cases, the security operatives looked away while vote buying was going on at some polling units.”
Comrade Rafsanjani who doubles as Chairman Board of Trustees Amnesty International Nigeria and Executive Director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), expressed dismay concerning the protest staged by police personnel over the non-payment of their allowances for the election.
He however, appealed to government and leadership of security agencies to make sure that the allowances of security personnels are duly paid before elections, to prevent them from compromising their responsibilities on election days.
He said: “Once you deprive security operatives of their allowances during an electoral period, they are high chances that they will be forced to be corrupt in order for them to survive.