My Observation On the 2019 Presidential/NASS Elections


The February 23, 2019, Presidential and National Assembly Elections in Nigeria may have come and gone but the aftermath cannot be wished away. From my standpoint, I observed that the political space in the country has significantly broadened, as evidenced by the high number of registered voters, political parties and candidates who took part in the elections.

The battle for the grand commander of Africa’s most populous country was a fiercely contested battle between incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Party (APC) and former Vice President and businessman Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Buhari polled the highest votes in the 2019 election; he had 15,191,847 votes to floor Atiku who polled 11,262,978 votes.

 While the battle for the Senate was also characterized by many surprises. Such is the political dethronement of the third citizen of the country, Dr Bukola Saraki who lost his seat the candidate of the APC.

Several young people were recruited as candidates and polling staff. This demonstrates a commendable level of youth mobilization for political participation.

Another sweet development was the slight increase in the number of women presidential candidates. However, overall, women participation as candidates was still low. For instance, of the 73 presidential candidates, only three were women two of whom withdrew their candidacy.

Over 38 per cent of the polling units across the country did not close at 2 p. m due to the late arrival of the Ad-hoc staffs of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the long queue voters.

Some of the observation missions on the ground include African Union (AU), International Republican Institute/National Democratic Institute (NDI), Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA), Commonwealth and the European Union Observation Mission (EU EOM).

Drawbacks

INEC  should be commended for employing continuous accreditation and voting which aided the pace of the voting and counting exercise in many polling units nationwide. However, it was widely reported that there was very limited opportunity for Nigeria’s Internally Displaced Persons to participate.

Federal government-owned radio, as well as leading commercial broadcasters at the national and regional levels, divided airtime between the main parties, APC and PDP leaving little or no space for smaller parties and individuals.

Several reports claim that there was clear partisan programming by the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), state-run media and local commercial radio stations owned by politicians including African Independent Television (AIT) and Television Continental. This ensured limited access to diverse and factual information on which to make an informed choice.

Despite election-related violence, deaths, bomb attacks and intimidation, the overall political climate remained largely peaceful and conducive for the conduct of a democratic process. Except for some areas in Rivers, Lagos, Zamfara and Abia.

Personally, I believe there are some areas that need some attention, especially the areas of delay in the commencement, collation and announcements of results.

I observed in some of the polling stations that (the voting time) was delayed for one hour and 45 minutes but of course it started and we saw at the end agitations from some quarters.

Most of the eligible voters are satisfied and got the chance to elect their candidate.

The head of mission stated that the early postponement of the general elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) contributed to the process being peaceful, calm and orderly.

I hope  INEC will solve the few issues that were identified.

Many polling units opened very late on Election Day due to lack of materials, but the electoral body did a poor job communicating with electorates about what was happening and whether closing time would be extended or nit. As a result, there was confusion and I observed that some people were put off from voting.

I hope there won't be a repetition in the forthcoming gubernatorial and State house of assembly election.



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