WITH less than eight weeks to the 2023 general elections, Niger Delta youth under the auspices of Niger Delta Youth Congress, NDYC, Tuesday, encouraged the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, not to be intimidated to uphold values of democracy as far conducting credible elections is concerned.
The encouragement is coming on the heels of recent attacks on INEC’s facilities and some doubts on the functionality and reliability on the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, during the election.
National Coordinator of the group, Comrade Israel Uwejeyan, said the electoral body needs support from Nigerians to do effectively carry out their statutory mandate without any form of intimidation before, during and after the elections.
According to Uwejeyan, it is a crucial moment and opportunity for INEC and Nigeria’s security agencies to demonstrate their commitment to the rule of law and the well-being of the nation by conducting a free and fair election that would enter the anal of history nationally and internationally.
He said: “As the 2023 general elections draw near, we want to apprise the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to conduct a free, fair, and credible election and take advantage of the unique opportunity he has to leave a lasting legacy of integrity and transparency in the electoral process of Nigeria before he goes back to the classroom.
“With the upcoming general elections on the horizon, it is imperative that the INEC chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, do the right thing and ensure that the polls are free, fair, and transparent.
“We understand that this is no easy task. There will be those who will seek to intimidate and coerce you and your staff to sway the outcome of the elections.
“But we urge you to stand firm and not to be deterred as your commitment to upholding the values of democracy and the will of the people is more important now than ever before.
“As the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, has a crucial role to play in ensuring the integrity and credibility of Nigeria’s electoral process.
“With this in mind, it is important that Mr. Yakubu avoids any actions that he may later come to regret, as they could have serious consequences for his reputation and the effectiveness of INEC.
“One of the primary responsibilities of INEC is to ensure that elections are free and fair, and that the will of the people is accurately reflected in the results. This requires a high level of transparency and impartiality, and any actions that could be perceived as biased or politically motivated could undermine the public’s trust in the electoral process and may lead to a National chaos as Nigerian are and fed up.”
However, the group stated that the INEC boss should be careful with critical decisions that could make or mar the electoral process and thrown the entire country into jeopardy.
“In order to avoid regret in the future, Mr. Yakubu should be mindful of the potential impacts of his decisions and actions, and ensure that they are in line with INEC’s mandate and principles.
“He should also be open and transparent in his communication and decision-making, and take steps to ensure that all stakeholders have a fair and equal opportunity.
“Ultimately, Mr. Yakubu’s legacy as INEC Chairman will be determined by his ability to uphold the integrity and credibility of Nigeria’s elections. By taking a proactive and transparent approach to his role, he can ensure that he leaves office with a sense of accomplishment and pride in the work he has done”, he said.
He also tasked INEC personnel to be deployed to the various polling units across the 774 Local Government Areas to stand with the INEC chairman to deliver credible elections and be mindful of their integrity to do the right thing.
“We also call on all INEC workers to act with integrity and fairness in the polling units as It is through your efforts that the trust of the Nigerian people in the electoral process and the hope of Nigerians for a better Nation can be restored.
“We know that you will be working under immense pressure and that there may be those who will try to compromise your principles. But we encourage you to stand strong and do the right thing. Our eyes are on you and the eyes of the world are upon you.
“It is also crucial that we appeal to the country’s security agencies to do their part to ensure a fair and peaceful process. As the primary guardians of law and order in the nation, it is the responsibility of these agencies to protect the rights and safety of all citizens, regardless of their political beliefs or affiliations, which includes ensuring that the electoral process is conducted in a transparent and unbiased manner and that any attempts to disrupt or manipulate the outcome are swiftly and decisively dealt with.”
However, the group pointed that, “Unfortunately, there have been so many instances in the past where Nigeria’s security agencies practiced favoritism and politically interfered in the electoral process. This has led to a lack of trust in their ability to uphold their mandate and has contributed to the divisions and tensions that have plagued the Nation.
“It is therefore imperative that the security agencies take steps to rebuild this trust and demonstrate their commitment to impartiality and justice. This could include training programs to promote neutrality and professionalism, as well as stronger measures to prevent corruption and abuse of power.
“In the lead up to the elections, it is also important that the security agencies work closely with all political parties and stakeholders to ensure that the campaign period is peaceful and orderly. This includes providing adequate protection for candidates and their supporters, as well as safeguarding polling stations and other key infrastructure.
“The upcoming elections present a crucial opportunity for INEC and Nigeria’s security agencies to demonstrate their commitment to the rule of law and the well-being of the nation. It is our hope that they rise to this challenge and do their part to ensure a fair and peaceful electoral process”, he added.
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