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INEC reacts to EU scathing report on 2023 elections

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has spoken on the European Union (EU) election observation mission’s final report on the recently concluded general election.

The election umpire said the report did not essentially reflect the true state of things during the election.

Barry Andrews, the chief observer, had chided INEC for the operational challenges and glitches experienced with the bimodal voter accreditation system (BVAS) and the result viewing portal,

Andrews said the discrepancies eroded credibility of the polls severely damaged public confidence in the electoral body.

Reacting to the report, Festus Okoye, INEC national commissioner for information and voter education, said deepening electoral process in the country is a marathon and not a sprint.

He noted that it was unfair to judge the commission and the entirety of the polls off a few glitches, stressing that Nigeria is on course to achieving optimal democracy.

He noted that in other reports submitted, domestic and international observers attested to the fact that in terms of voter accreditation, the BVAS performed optimally.

The national commissioner, however, noted that certain factors contributed to issues encountered in the conduct of the elections.

“If you look at those challenges, you must also look at the context of the elections, also the environment which was surrounded by, one, insecurity in so many parts of the country. Nobody can dispute that,” he said.

“Secondly, there were also issues targeted at some of our staff and other Nigerians.

“You have to also look at the issues of fuel scarcity during that particular period and the issue of the naira redesign and also that we had significant challenges with transporters.

“So these are some of the issues we’re going to look at.”

Okoye said INEC would act on the recommendations made by the EU mission.

“One of the lessons that we must learn is that we must have faith in our democratic institutions. Is it every time that we have a challenge with a particular section of the constitution that we now run to the national assembly to amend the law? There has to be some level of fidelity, that is the only way we can progress,” he said.

“The other issue I want to outline is that democracy is not a 100m dash, we as a people and a nation have to build our democratic institutions and our own democracy.

“You heard the chief observer say that there is democratic regression in so many countries of the world, are we supposed to also regress? No. We have to be positive and build our own.

“Those who say there is nothing positive about our democracy are saying that we should allow anti-democratic forces to take over and nobody does that.”

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