The Centre for Africa Advancement and Democracy (CAAD) has expressed satisfaction with the combined efforts of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) during the Anambra governorship election.
The centre made this known in a preliminary report released on Monday, compiled by its observers at different stations across the state.
Recall that INEC on Sunday night declared the poll as inconclusive, scheduling a supplementary election in 362 polling units in Ihiala Local Government Area on November 9.
However, the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room declared the exercise as “generally peaceful” unlike previous elections.
No fewer than 5,000 NYSC members were deployed to the state for the election.
And according to Director-General, Brig-Gen Shuaibu Ibrahim, these young Nigerians are the real heroes who have written their names in the annal of history.
In the report signed by its Executive Director, Dr. George Lumumba, while admitting the late arrival of election materials in some parts, the centre said INEC officials performed credibly well in ensuring the credulity of the polls.
The centre said it is particularly impressed with the NYSC members deployed across the state, noting that the visit of the NYSC DG proved to be a morale booster.
According to the centre, the NYSC has again demonstrated to be an integral part of our democracy with its critical role in Anambra.
The Centre for Africa Advancement and Democracy congratulated the NYSC DG for his exemplary conduct, manifest in his presence.
While also hailing the security agencies, the group recommended the NYSC approach in conducting future elections in Nigeria that saw the presence of its DG on the ground in Anambra state.
Read full report below:
The Gubernatorial election in Anambra state was conducted on 6 November 2021 and had political parties fielding candidates for the polls. There were widespread concerns across the country over the conduct of the elections due to insecurity and other factors that might impede the credibility of the electoral process.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) expressed its readiness to conduct the elections. The security agencies also affirmed their readiness to ensure the safety of lives and properties. Various stakeholders urged voters to come out in numbers to vote for their preferred candidates.
The Centre for Africa Advancement and Democracy consequently deployed a special election observer team to Anambra State to monitor the elections pursuant to its core mandates.
The Anambra Gubernatorial elections were indeed a litmus test for the advancement of democracy in Nigeria. Consequently, issues were surrounding the credibility of the elections. The elections were essentially between three strong contenders from the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), the All Progressive Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), as well as other political parties that fielded candidates for the elections.
One of the main issues in focus in the buildup to the elections was the sit at home order issued by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). This order was later cancelled, yet, some stakeholders expressed concerns with voters apathy during the elections, and efforts were made to sensitize the populace to come out and exercise their electoral franchise.
There were also concerns about violence during the elections due to the prevalence of security threats in southeast Nigeria in recent times.
The Role of INEC
The Independent National Electoral Commission deployed elections materials to all local government areas in good time, but for a few places that experienced late arrival of electoral materials.
In our assessment of the elections, INEC performed creditably well in ensuring the credulity of the polls. Aside from the fact that accusations were levelled against INEC by some political parties, stating that INEC was systematically working for the electoral success of a particular political party. Our team of observers deployed across the various local government areas and the INEC office in Anambra state could not verify this allegation.
We observed the presence of political party agents at various polling units, observing the electoral process. In some areas, there was palpable tension. However, it didn’t escalate into violence due to security operatives handling strategic places around the ballot box area designated for voting.
The Role of Security Agencies
A combined team of security operatives from the various security agencies guaranteed the safety of lives and properties during the electoral process. The security agencies were able to neutralize attempts to disrupt voting in some wards. It suffices to add that there was an active collaboration between INEC officials and the security operatives at election venues.
The Role of Critical Partners such as NYSC
The NYSC played a critical role in the overall success of the elections. We observed the presence of the Director-General of the NYSC in Anambra state, with other top management staff. The essence of his presence was linked with the fact that Corp members were deployed at all polling centres across the state, conducting elections.
This has been the trend over the years and in previous elections. It was expected that corp members deployed stayed aloof of political considerations during the elections. In some of the polling centres where the NYSC DG visited, he applauded the conduct of Corp members. He reminded them of their critical role in ensuring the credibility of the process.
Corp members were excited to see the DG at their polling units and without notice. It served as a morale booster for the corp members who expressed delight at such a visit by the DG.
The Role of Political Parties
The various political parties were at loggerheads before and after the elections. The candidates of the three major political parties expressed their acceptability to the electorates and urged voters to vote their conscience. This fact played a critical role in voters turnout. This is aside from the fact that a candidate of one of the three major political parties alleged INEC was working to succeed a particular political party, which somewhat caused some unrest in some select areas.
This almost pitched party agents against one another, but for the intervention of stakeholders that cautioned candidates not to incite violence in the state.
The Centre for Africa Advancement and Democracy concludes in this preliminary report that the Anambra Gubernatorial election was credible in all facets. The conduct of INEC officials was satisfactory. The security agencies were also exemplary in the discharge of their duties.
The Centre for Africa Advancement and Democracy recommends the NYSC approach in conducting future elections in Nigeria that saw the presence of the NYSC DG on the ground in Anambra state.
It is our considered opinion that such action goes a long way, and we reckoned with the NYSC as an institution for the critical role it played in the success of the Anambra gubernatorial election. The NYSC has once again demonstrated to be an integral part of our democracy.
The Centre for Africa Advancement and Democracy commends the conduct of corp members during and after the elections in Anambra state. We also congratulate the DG of the NYSC for his exemplary conduct, manifest in his presence in Anambra state, as it went a long way in boosting the morale of Corp members deployed during the elections.