AHEAD of the forthcoming Gubernatorial and State Houses of Assembly Elections, the Warri Boys Social & Welfare Society, a.k.a. “Warri Boys Association” has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to ensure that no stone is left unturned with a view to having a free and fair Gubernatorial and State Houses of Assembly Elections.
In a statement, President of the group, Matthew Ogagaworia said that that the recently concluded Presidential Elections saw the declaration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the APC as President-Elect is being disputed not just by partisans but also by reputable observers.
The group also observed that late arrival of election officials and materials at many polling units, Bi-modal verification system (BVAS) technical hitches, Violence and intimidation of voters, poor staff understanding of election day processes, failure to transmit the results a polling unit levels by the Commission upon declaration of results by the Presiding Officers almost marred the election.
He said: “We have watched closely the preparation for the forthcoming. More particularly the preparation for the Elections by and its recent announcement that the earlier scheduled elections for March 18, 2023.
“We cannot dismiss the fact that results of the elections have been strongly disputed and protested, not just by partisans but also by reputable observers.
“These issues contributed to diminished public trust and confidence in the results subsequently announced
“The aforementioned lapses calls to question the preparedness of INEC to conduct elections that is transparent and seen to be transparent, leaving no room to question its conduct.
“The Association therefore calls on INEC to up its game such that it can cope with reducing late arrival of election materials and presiding officers; assuring that preparations have been made for proper lighting of Polling Units to allow voting and vote counting late in the night if need be, prompt fixing of any technical glitch in the e BVAS machines, and ensuring that its iReV website is in a position to receive polling unit declared, uploaded results, ensuring that its staff (permanent and ad-hoc) have the requisite knowledge and skills to handle the elections at the polling units assigned to them and ensuring that there are no delays that inhibit smooth access to viewing the uploaded results on the IReV portal.
“It is our Association’s belief that where these remedial actions are in place before the election, threats to lives of INEC officials, especially of the Youth Coppers who serve as ad-hoc staff would be minimized if not totally eliminated.
“We also note that the forthcoming Gubernatorial and State Houses of Assembly Elections represent another window of opportunity for our people to use their votes to elect men and women of at the State level that favours the dreams and aspiration of the common man.
“It is pertinent to state that across the States there is despondency due to unemployment, vulnerability of our youths to crimes created by idleness, lack of State support, dilapidated and inadequate infrastructure, weak governance structure, corruption, declining social and ethical values in the family and in the larger society, insecurity, avarice, kidnapping, armed robbery and sheer criminality.
“Therefore, our people across the various States of Nigeria, especially in our beloved Delta State, are encouraged to come out massively on Saturday, March 18, 2023, to vote for a leadership team that can restore hope to them by showing the path to wealth creation through establishment of the right fiscal and legal frameworks thus opening up the space for youth employment and poverty alleviations.
“We cannot end this statement without reminding the political parties, their candidates as well as their supporters that elections must be voted with our fingers and not blood. Therefore, the candidates and their supporters must be careful in their choice of words and stay focused on the issues that matter rather than name-calling.
“It is also to be loudly noted that in an election there will be a winner and a loser. Therefore, while the Candidates plan to win, they must also realise that they can lose too, and so should remember that the laws governing the elections offer windows for resolving grievances through the law courts.
“Finally, the Association calls on INEC to do all within its powers to avoid the lapses observed in the March 11, 2023 Presidential Polls and also anticipate gaps that could occur and provide upfront guidance to its team to deliver hitch-free, credible and acceptable elections come March 18, 2023 during the Gubernatorial and States Houses of Assembly Elections.