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INEC Urges Restraint as Clashes Between Political Parties Escalate Ahead of Off-Season Governorship Elections

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has expressed concern over the increasing use of thugs to disrupt elections and has called on political parties and their candidates to rein in their supporters. Ahead of the off-season governorship elections in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi States, disturbing reports of clashes between opposing parties have emerged, with each side making claims of innocence or culpability.

As part of its efforts to enhance future elections and electoral activities, INEC is conducting a comprehensive review of the 2023 general election. The goal is to prepare a detailed report that will facilitate further engagement with stakeholders and focus on specific actions to improve electoral processes.

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During a meeting with political parties for the review, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, the Chairman of INEC, stressed the need to address complaints from some political parties about the misuse of incumbency power in certain states. Some parties and candidates have reported restricted access to public facilities for media campaigns and outdoor advertising due to exorbitant fees or outright denial, allegedly influenced by the power of incumbency.

Professor Yakubu highlighted key areas for improvement based on lessons learned from the 2023 general election. These areas include election technology, recruitment and training of ad hoc staff, the conduct of regular and ad hoc officials, security measures, logistics management, and collaboration with other service providers.

In response to the INEC 2023 elections review report, Engr. Yusuf Yabagi, Chairman of the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC), emphasized the importance of stakeholders working together to enhance the electoral process for future elections. IPAC has established an Elections Review Committee to thoroughly investigate the conduct and outcome of the 2023 election. The committee aims to identify both immediate and underlying causes and hopes that its findings and recommendations will encourage dialogue among all stakeholders for necessary electoral, legal, and administrative reforms to improve democratic practices in Nigeria.

As the off-season elections in Kogi, Bayelsa, and Imo States approach, it is crucial for all parties and candidates to exercise restraint and foster an environment of peaceful and fair elections. INEC and various stakeholders are committed to learning from past experiences and implementing measures that will enhance the integrity and transparency of the electoral process.

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