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2023: Fuel scarcity may affect voter turnout, W’African CSOs warn

Bisola David

Concerns have been made by a coalition of civil society organizations operating under the auspices of the West African Democracy Solidarity Network that Nigeria’s fuel shortage could result in a poor voter participation in the country’s general elections next month.

The punch has reported that the Independent National Electoral Commission has also been questioned by WADEMOS, a group of 30 civil society organizations in the ECOWAS region, about the constitutional conditions for a candidate to be proclaimed the winner in the presidential election set for February 25.

The group, which is made up of the Center for Democratic Development and YIAGA Africa, cautioned that if the clarification was not given before the election, it might lead to disagreements and perhaps violence if there were a run-off.

The Director of Advocacy and Public Engagement in CDD-Ghana, Kojo Asante, said the mission recognized the importance of the upcoming election in light of the strides that Nigeria had made in sustaining democracy over the last 24 years without any unconstitutional interruptions while speaking with journalists in Abuja after its pre-election solidarity mission to Nigeria ahead of the forthcoming elections.

According to him, the mission included meetings with a variety of Nigerian stakeholders, including members from the Inter-party Advisory Council, the Inter-party Advisory Council, ECOWAS, INEC, the National Human Rights Commission, and CSOs.

On election day, he warned that widespread Bimodal Voter Accreditation System malfunctions could send voters into a panic.

The mission emphasized that INEC must follow the suggested emergency steps in order to give citizens the required protections and certainty.

Asante declared, “Observations have been made on a number of security issues that may seriously jeopardize the peaceful conduct of the elections. The political discourse and debate between political parties and candidates alike sometimes have a significant undercurrent of religious and ethnic tensions. Additionally, the fact that there is persistent insecurity throughout the nation due to a rise in kidnapping, banditry, insurgency, and separatist groups generates a high level of concern among the populace.

“The distribution of supplies and logistics before to the election is another matter of worry. This anxiety is made worse by the nation’s ongoing, widespread fuel shortage. We take particular note of the fact that earlier elections in Nigeria were delayed in part due to logistical issues.

To lessen the potential impact of the present shortages on the election, the administration must also increase fuel availability. This has the potential to decrease voter turnout and disinterest, especially for those who will travel a great distance to cast their ballots.

Once more, it has implications for the deployment of patrol teams and security officers to ensure protection for the election.

“INEC should clarify the electoral law’s requirements, which indicate that the victor of the presidential contest must receive a majority of the vote overall and 25% of the vote in at least two-thirds of the states in Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory. The law has been given many different interpretations, and the presidential election of 2023 is anticipated to be competitive.

In order to prevent voters from being denied the right to vote as a result of the proposed “No Verification No Vote” requirement for the election, INEC must once again consider further extending the deadline for PVC distribution and accelerating the distribution of the cards to all registered voters. In a similar spirit, registered voters who haven’t yet picked up their PVCs should make an effort to visit authorized collecting stations and do so before

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