The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said it is practically impossible to conduct elections and electoral activities successfully in an atmosphere of violence.
It said Electoral Commissions in West Africa and beyond have expressed concern about the impact of prevailing insecurity on the conduct of elections, banditry, and other forms of armed conflict.
Consequently, the Commission said a nine-nation conference of Electoral Commissions and election experts is holding this week in Ouagadougou, involving the host, Burkina Faso, as well as Benin Republic, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Togo from West Africa; and the Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of Congo from Central Africa.
INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, said this at a meeting with United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) held in Abuja on Monday.
He stressed that the Commission appreciates UNOWAS work in the areas of preventive diplomacy, political mediation and facilitation in West Africa and the Sahel.
“These are critical conditions for peace. Election Management Bodies are major beneficiaries of your work. This is because elections and electoral activities cannot be successfully conducted in an atmosphere of violence. For this reason, INEC always appreciates the role of UNOWAS in our sub-region and the Sahel.
“At different fora, Electoral Commissions in West Africa and beyond have expressed concern about the impact of prevailing insecurity on the conduct of elections, particularly with regard to insurgency, banditry, and other forms of armed conflict. Nigeria will be making two presentations at the Conference.
“We believe that your visit today will not only encourage us in our determination to conduct credible, transparent, inclusive, and verifiable elections but we will also share the outcome of our discussion with colleagues from other electoral commissions in West Africa and beyond.
“Since you arrived in Nigeria, we have followed your engagements with stakeholders. In particular, we appreciate your fervent appeal for support to the efforts of INEC to conduct peaceful elections. With just 81 days to the 2023 General Election, we have made tremendous progress in our preparations so far.”
He noted that this is the 7th consecutive General Election since the restoration of democracy in Nigeria in 1999.
“We are aware of the importance of our elections to Nigeria, our sub-region and the world. Also assure you that the Commission will not fail the nation and the international community.
“We will continue to make incremental improvement to our electoral process supported by the deployment of appropriate and relevant technology that will make voter accreditation and result management more credible and transparent.”
Earlier, the head of Delegation who is the deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel and Officer in Charge of UNOWAS, Ms Giovanie Biha, said there is a lot to do in terms of deepening democracy across the region and democratic governance hence the success of the election is crucial.
Biha who said the election is very crucial to the west African region, added, “INEC has become an inspiration to other countries in the region.”