By Rose Audu, Staff Reporter|
An election monitory observation and evaluation body under the aegis of The Election Network in Abuja, has condemned massive irregularities, voter apathy, intimidation and disenfranchisement of electorates during the 2019 general Election.
It is against this background that
the group came up with a documentary to take views of many Nigerians on the conduct of the election processes in 2019 and chart a way forward.
According to the group, the 2019 elections were setbacks for Nigeria’s electoral and democratic framework.
The group also noted that,officially, over 80 million Nigerians collected their voter cards from INEC but only 30% of those people voted during the elections; the lowest recorded voters turnout in the history of Nigeria’s democracy.
The aim for putting the documentary together,according to the group, is to understand why the election was marred by irregularities , to enable them make submissions to policymakers on how this level of failure can be avoided in the coming elections.
The Election Network produced a documentary titled “Left Behind.” In this documentary, Nigerians who were unable to or chose not to vote during the 2019 elections were interviewed.
According to report gathered by The Election Network team, “what stood out the most is violence. Between 2003 and 2019 alone, over 1932 electoral-violence related deaths were recorded, with 626 of these deaths occurring in 2019 alone.”
” Fear of intimidation and violence, the presence of heavy military and police personnel in certain regions aggravated this fear and prevented people from voting,” the report said.
In the 2019 general elections, there were at least 13 incidences of electoral violence as a result of military presence at polling units. Other barriers to voting were technical and administrative issues like the failure of card readers, and lack of provisions for people living with disabilities.
Below are proposals for Electoral reform made by The Election Network:
1. The passage of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill: This overarching law on elections in Nigeria, when passed, will help put in check several irregularities but more importantly, give way for the full implementation of electronic voting during elections.
2. Electronic Accreditation, Voting and Collation: This is related to our first proposal on the passage of the Electoral Amendment Bill. To ensure credibility in the voting system, accreditation, voting and collation needs to be done electronically to avoid errors and to also trace malpractices in the system.
3. Prosecution of Electoral Offenders: Snatching of ballot boxes and other election-related offences are common features during elections in Nigeria but these acts often go unpunished. We encourage parliament to pass the bill for the enactment of the National Electoral Offences Commission, to ensure that electoral offenders are punished.
4. Transferability of Voters Card: Many voters were disenfranchised because they had registered in different places from where they currently live. It is important to ensure that voter cards are not only transferable but flexible; a Nigerian should be able to vote anywhere they are, when the need arises.
5. Inclusion for People Living with Disabilities: The inclusion of people living with disabilities in the voting process should not be treated as an after-thought. Their needs should be included during election planning to ensure they are able to adequately exercise their rights.
6. Financial Accountability.