The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) finds itself under scrutiny once again following the off-season governorship elections held on November 11, 2023, in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi states.
Prior to the elections, INEC had pledged an enhanced, seamless, and transparent process, aiming to rebuild trust after the turbulent February 25 Presidential Election. Unfortunately, the aftermath of the November 11 polls reveals a stark contrast to these assurances.
The year 2023 has proven to be a challenging electoral period for Nigeria, marked by disruptions, impunity, and unsettling reports during the February general elections. Despite citizens’ high expectations and INEC’s constitutional powers, the electoral body has seemingly fallen short of delivering a credible electoral process.
Despite efforts to ensure a fair election, including the deployment of technological measures like the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), the November 11 elections witnessed alarming irregularities. Reports emerged of controversies surrounding the Independent Result Viewing Portal (IReV), allegations of pre-written results, and instances of security agencies facilitating ballot box snatching.
In Kogi State, INEC officials were accused of being caught with pre-recorded result sheets, further deepening suspicions of foul play. Meanwhile, in Imo State, videos circulated depicting security personnel allegedly disrupting the voting process and making off with electoral materials.
Political parties, including the Action Alliance (AA), PDP, and SDP, have vehemently rejected the election results, citing ballot box snatching, pre-written results, and other irregularities. The call for result cancellation resonates among party leaders, with accusations of INEC’s bias and compromise.
Despite the controversies and allegations of gross manipulation, INEC proceeded to declare winners in both Imo and Kogi States. This has intensified public dissatisfaction, with critics asserting that INEC’s credibility is diminishing rapidly.
Political analyst Dr. Emeka Nwosu expressed dismay over the elections, highlighting the loss of confidence in INEC. He criticized the reported lapses in the electoral process, from pre-filled result sheets to the absence of electronic result transmission, emphasizing the urgent need for electoral reform.
As the nation grapples with these challenges, calls for a paradigm shift towards proportional representation echo, suggesting a departure from the winner-takes-all system to enhance fairness and democratic integrity. The aftermath of the November 11 elections serves as a stark reminder of the imperative to address and rectify the flaws in Nigeria’s electoral system.