London based independent policy institute, Chatham House has slammed the shabby conduct of the Presidential and National Assembly elections held in Nigeria on February 25, saying it showed that the electoral umpire has not learnt new lessons.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had controversial declared the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Senator Bola Tinubu as the winner of that election, notwithstanding nagging legal questions and allegations of voter suppression, violence and manipulation of results by INEC staff.
Abubakar Atiku of the Peoples Democratic Party and Peter Obi of the Labour Party had since challenged the results at the presidential election tribunal.
Recall that INEC chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu had gone to Chatham House, weeks before the election, to assure the world that his commission was ready to conduct a free and fair credible elections..
However, the Institute in its analysis revealed by the Associate Fellow, Africa Programme, Dr. Leena Koni Hoffmann, said INEC did not comply with its procedures, which it established before election.
Hoffman wrote, “The INEC’s performance and controversies over these results mean that the electoral reforms and lessons declared to have been learned were not fully applied and, as an electoral body, it was significantly less prepared than it claimed.
“The logistical failures of INEC and widespread delayed opening of polling units meant that voters who showed up at the polls early were frustrated, and many voters and INEC staff were not able to locate their polling units for several hours.”
The institute also stated that: “Less than half of eligible voters could participate in the elections, despite the commission’s N305 billion budgetary allocation. While Nigeria’s youth seemed energised leading up to the elections, it seems their ability to turn out is still being hugely constrained by how difficult and potentially dangerous it is to cast a vote in Nigeria.
“The INEC’s performance and controversies over these results mean that the electoral reforms and lessons declared to have been learned were not fully applied.
“At just 25.7 percent, the elections have the lowest recorded turnout of any election since Nigeria returned to democracy in 1999, despite being the most expensive. These dwindling numbers highlight how Nigeria’s politics and state institutions continue to exclude rather than include.”