Some independent election observers have identified widespread Bi-Modal Voter Accreditation System BVAS malfunction, as a major challenge of the FCT Area Councils election.
The group under the Situation Room also noted voter aparthy, vote buying and selling, poor voter education of the newly created Polling Units, as well as poor logistics challenges as major set backs during the just concluded election.
Convener of the group Ms Ene Obi, while briefing Newsmen in Abuja, called on the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, to also do a review on the accessibility of Polling Units with registered voters of persons with disabilities.
” It was observed that a good number of Polling Officers were not aware of some of the assistive devices such as braille. Our observers note that voting aids for PWDs were not available in 85% of the PUs and the items were not usable. For instance, INEC deployed leaflets instead of standard braille guides to the PUs in Karon-Majigi of Gwarimpa Ward and AMAC”.
“This election like several major and bye-elections to be conducted by INEC in 2022, sets the tone for the 2023 general election and a litmus test for INEC’s own preparedness to conduct the general election”.
They advised the Commission to work towards improving its logistics arrangements and ensure effective configuration of it’s accreditation devices, while ensuring early commencement of polls.
“The late deployment of materials within the FCT where INEC headquarters is situated is quite perplexing. INEC should carry out extensive voter education to raise awareness on the new polling units created in its Expansion of Access to Polling Units exercise in 2021, as well as the procedure for allotting voters to these new locations, ensure the deployment of assistive materials to these locations.
“Political parties should also actively engage in voter mobilisation to address the trend of diminishing voter turnout. Parties and candidates are the beneficiaries of the votes and are not doing enough to canvass for these votes”.
Situation Room called on President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the electoral bill to raise the standard of elections in Nigeria, improve electoral environment and prevent further excuses or deficiency in the electoral processes.
“The incidence of vote buying appears to have become a staple in the country’s elections, with the FCT election not being an exception. In some locations, votes were sold for between N1,000 and N2,000 per voter. Apart from the usual cash distribution, vote buying reportedly took the form of digital transfers in some locations”.
They however said the election was generally peaceful across the six Area Councils, as voters exercised their civic duty without conflict in the polling units visited.
By Julian Osamoto