THE Transition Monitoring Group(TMG),on Thursday cautioned political parties featuring in the Nov. 11 Bayelsa, Kogi and Imo governorship election, against violence.
The Chairman, TMG, Mr Auwal Rafsanjani said this at a news conference in Abuja, calling on the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) to ensure that the election was free, fair and credible.
Rafsanjani tasked INEC to improve on the challenges of the 2023 General Election to deliver credible election.
“Bearing in mind the widespread anomalies that were associated with the 2023 election regarding the conduct of political parties and politicians, security agencies, the electoral umpire, and political actors that marred the credibility of that election.
“Nigerians remain concerned about the direction of the off-cycle election.
” TMG finds it imperative to call this conference to draw attention of the public and government to some of the pressing pre-election situations in the three states as well as the state of the nation .
” Insecurity in Imo, Kogi and Bayelsa, is even more worrisome that the pre-election environment in the three states is a concern for successful conduct of the Nov. 11 election in the states,” he said.
Rafsanjani said that assessments conducted by TMG’s partners reported widespread violence across many local government areas of the three states ahead of the election.
“On the back of these evidence that are before the public, TMG will like to remind every stakeholder, especially the political actors, that elections are not war, but a democratic exercise aimed at giving the people the chance to freely elect and decide those who govern over them.
“These violent conducts are undemocratic and pose serious threats to the development of democracy in Nigeria. It is important for security agencies to ensure citizens can vote in peaceful electoral atmosphere across the three states,” he said.
Rafsanjani said that it was very disheartening to see in circulation a purported memo from an agency of the Imo Government procuring every room in every single hotel in Owerri covering the period of the election.
He said that what this simply implied was that the state government had effectively barred domestic and foreign observers from visiting the state ahead of the election.
“For the sake of democracy in Nigeria, TMG hopes these allegations are not true, and that the purported memo is also not true.
“This is because it would present a blow to the democratisation process in Nigeria and give others in power the boldness to thwart democratic processes through barbaric acts and practices,”he said.
Rafsanjani urged the state government to debunk this allegation and assure observers of their safety in Owerri and other parts of the state.
He also called on the federal government to investigate the weighty allegation and prevail on the state government to revert to democratic tenets.
He said that the disqualification of the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) by the Federal High Court had set the ground for violence ahead of the election in Bayelsa.
“TMG also noted the recent supplementary budget by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) which has also scaled second reading at parliament.
“The allocation of a whooping ₦18 billion for INEC to facilitate the conduct of Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi election is completely shocking as it had assured that the funds for the off-cycle election were parts of funds received ahead of the general election,” he said.
Rafsanjani said that TMG had concluded plans to deploy observers across all the local government areas of the three states and that the observers were undergoing training to be deployed to observe and report through a digital on-the-spot reporting tool which had been developed.
He called on the voting populace in Imo, Kogi and Bayelsa to troop out in their numbers to cast their votes for their preferred candidates.
He added that citizens should understand that democracy was about citizens participation and elections present the best opportunity for citizens to express their will and power.
“Citizen’s participation especially in large numbers also reduces manipulation opportunities for the political actors.
“Hence Citizens should desist from aiding and abetting malpractices, shun vote trading and keep an eagle eye on their votes.”(NAN)
November 2, 2023 @ 20:53 GMT|