A coalition of election monitoring groups, which monitored the just concluded governorship election in Imo State, commended the Independent National Electoral Commission for what it described as a ‘sterling and credible election’.
Making the commendation in a statement, the leader of the 35 groups of election monitors, Comrade Victor Kalu, said the election was an improvement in INEC’s performance to ensure that elections in Nigeria meet international standards and requirements.
According to them, the election highlighted increased efficiency at every stage of the electoral process on the part of INEC, thus exceeding the expectations of many Nigerians at the polls.
However, the coalition also commended security agencies for their professional conduct during the exercise.
“We, the coalition of INEC’s duly accredited Domestic Election Observer Groups for the November 11th 2023 Governorship Election in Imo State, having carefully and successfully observed the entire process of the election to a conclusion which was the election proper and the announcement of results and declaration of a winner, we wish to give kudos to INEC for a job well done,” they stated.
The coalition further explained that the recent election provided an opportunity for the election body to make amends for the public complaints and issues arising from the 2023 general elections in the country.
“There was an obvious improvement on the part of INEC in ensuring a credible, free, fair and transparent election in Imo state. The conduct of INEC was in line with our relevant electoral laws, the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the guidelines for the conduct of the election announced by the commission.
“The availability and timely distribution of election materials without the usual transportation hitches aided the smooth and timely commencement of the election in all the polling units in the state”, Kalu, the head of the Grassroots Development and Peace Initiative, said on behalf of the coalition.
The coalition added that “The security situation and arrangements before the election was as if Imo would collapse due to challenging rumours of insecurity threatening the conduct of the election. But to our greatest surprise, the November 11th 2023 Governorship Election in Imo state has gone into history as the most peaceful and safe election in recent times in the state and also compared to Kogi and Bayelsa states, where the same governorship election took place the same day. Kudos to the very articulated and professional security networking among the security agents, who also professionally conducted themselves.
“The seamless and quickest process of result collation, accurate tabulation and peaceful declaration of winner was yet another fit worthy of commendation. Our team observed strict compliance with using the BVAS as stipulated by the Electoral Act and Guideline for the election. We are also impressed at the level of voter turnout for the election, which is the highest in recent times. It goes to show their readiness to exercise their franchise of electing their representative in the seat of power of the state. The conduct of voters was very impressive and commendable.”
Speaking on the conduct of the political parties during the election, the group which includes the Grassroot Development and Peace Initiative, Center for Development and Transformation Initiative, Initiative for Peace, Humanity and Social Advancement for Women, Global Development Center for Rescue Mission in Nigeria, Advocacy for Quality Leadership and Health Awareness Foundation, Global Policy Advocacy and Leadership Initiative and more, noted that: “Our Team 0observed that eighteen political parties participated in the election, and all of them received a keenly contested vote. We commend the good people of Imo for trooping out en mass to freely and peacefully elect a candidate of their choice without any harassment, intimidation or cohesion. We also commend them for putting the string of violence behind them, knowing that the state belongs to them. The improvement in our electoral process as observed in the Imo State Governorship Election 2023, especially on the unhindered and transparent process of the entire exercise till the winner of the election was peacefully announced, is hereby commended as we request that it be sustained in future elections.
“We want to conclude by categorising that the November 11th, 2023 Imo state governorship election took place in a peaceful and calm atmosphere. The exercise was transparent, credible, free and fair, in line with the democratic tenets of constitutional elections. We, therefore, adjudge it to have met the international best practices for democratic election. The results should, therefore be accepted by all as a true reflection of the majority of voters in Imo state”.
While appealing to other candidates who participated in the election to “show a good spirit of sportsmanship, which is the beauty of democracy as there is always another chance to explore democratic channels better as stipulated by the law, to ventilate their grievances”, the group also urged Governor Hope Uzodimma to reach and engage all segments of the society and show kindness in victory.