Statement on INEC’s Postponement of the 2019 Elections

[SDN is a member of the Civil Society Situation Room which is made up of civil society organisations (CSOs) working together in support of free, fair, and credible elections in Nigeria. The following statement has been released by CSSR on behalf of its members.]

– Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room

Issued: 10.00am, 16.02.2019 

The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room expresses disappointment and shock at the postponement of the polls in spite of assurances by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that everything was ready for the elections. This development casts a cloud of doubt on INEC’s credibility and competence in conducting the election. It has created needless tension and confusion in the country. INEC has a duty to be honest and transparent with Nigerians in the conduct of elections. That duty of honesty has been fundamentally breached.

The Situation Room calls on INEC to immediately provide a clear explanation to Nigerians and stakeholders on what went wrong and steps to be taken to ensure that this does not happen again. INEC must inform Nigerians what steps it is taking to hold persons responsible for this fiasco to account. INEC has an onerous task of reassuring Nigerians in the light of these unfortunate events, especially with respect to transparency of polls, collation, and enforcement of rules. The Commission needs to explain to Nigerians how they are able to address the extra financial and logistical burden that this has occasioned.  Also, the management and integrity of already distributed materials is key. INEC will need to explain how it will do this.

There is no doubt that this postponement has imposed an unforeseen financial and logistical burden on political parties, candidates, businesses, and indeed the generality of Nigerians. We sympathise with Nigerians and urge restraint in the face of this sad postponement.  We particularly call on political parties and candidates for election, to put Nigeria first, and ensure that every grievance is channeled through appropriate quarters.

In a period of national uncertainties, fake news and hate speech could be destabilising. We urge for restraint and call on all stakeholders to refrain from misinformation and inciting comments capable of undermining peace and security. Security agencies are called upon to remain professional and neutral as we collectively confront this challenge.

We condemn in the strongest terms the treatment of National Youth Corp members. The heart-breaking pictures of these brave young men and women sleeping in open fields without any arrangement for their security and safety is disappointing. We call on INEC and indeed all Nigerians to reach out to these youths and provide whatever support necessary to keep them fed and safe. The Situation Room will continue to closely watch the process and will take steps needed to support the conduct of credible elections in Nigeria. There is no alternative to democratic elections and we will continue to work towards successful elections in the country. Nigerians should not give up. We urge all eligible voters to come out and cast their vote. Nigeria belongs to us all.

Clement Nwankwo – Executive Director, Policy a& Legal Advocacy Centre & Convener, Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room

The Situation Room is made up of CSOs working in support of credible and transparent elections in Nigeria and includes such groups as Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), CLEEN Foundation, Action Aid Nigeria, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Proactive Gender Initiative (PGI) Enough is Enough Nigeria, WANGONET, Partners for Electoral Reform, JDPC and YIAGA Africa Others are Development Dynamics, Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Stakeholder Democracy Network (SDN), Human Rights Monitor, Reclaim Naija, CITAD, Alliance for Credible Elections (ACE), and CISLAC, amongst other CSOs, numbering more than seventy in total.

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