By Joan Nwagwu
Abuja, Feb. 26, 2023
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has expressed worry over incidences of violence in some polling units and areas where activities of thugs are pronounced in Saturday’s general election.
Mr. Joe Ajaero, the NLC President, said this in a statement on Saturday in Abuja, titled “INEC, where are the lessons learnt from previous elections?”
According to Ajaero, the report reaching us thus far from around the country is contrary to the high hopes which we have earlier had for today’s exercise.
“The experiences of yesterday ought to have prepared INEC to conduct a better election this year.
“We had hoped that voting materials would reach their destinations on time so that the various time frames would be strictly adhered to preventing the disenfranchisement of potential voters.
“Report reaching us paints a rather frightening picture that in many areas around the country, as late as 12 noon; voting materials were yet to get to the polling units.
“We are worried of the reports of manifest incidences of violence in some polling units and areas where activities of thugs are pronounced even in the presence of security agencies,’’ he said.
He also said INEC ought to ensure that voters perform their rights in secrecy to avoid exposing them to the violence that has been reported.
The NLC president said the sanctity of the ballot must be protected and this would not be the case if the Police and INEC officials failed to perform their duties to Nigerians.
Ajaero also said guidelines for voting must be followed to protect the rights of voters at the polling units guaranteeing that their choices remain private.
He added that this would build confidence and ensure large turnout in the election.
According to him, INEC must deal with the voter suppression and ballot box snatching that were recorded in some parts of the country.
“If voters are beaten at the Polling Units, the signal to other voters is to stay at home and not vote. This disenfranchises and is undemocratic thus unacceptable.
“It is important that INEC understands that this election is also a referendum on its capacity to conduct free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria.
“It should not therefore fail itself and Nigerians again but prove wrong those who have come to believe that it would be difficult for INEC to raise the bar in election conducts in Nigeria,’’ he stated.
Ajaero said there was no other institution that would be held responsible except INEC, if it failed to live up to the expectations of Nigerians.
He added that given the huge resources invested in it, the pivotal nature of this election and the enormous time they had in preparing for this cycle, much needed to be done.
He said that the commission’s experiences in election conduct must be brought to bear in this exercise to make it successful.
He said that the NLC would hold INEC directly responsible for all the anomalies associated with the election.
Ajaero therefore called on INEC to immediately sit up and correct what is happening.
“Their monitoring mechanism must swing into action and correct what is already being observed to avert what we are already observing in the field.
“If INEC gets it right, Nigeria will get it right. This election offers us such hope and INEC is at the centre of this hope,’’ he declared.