The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been urged by leaders in the West African sub-region to comply with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 regarding the collation of results for the presidential and National Assembly elections that took place on February 25, 2023, in Nigeria.
This call was made by members of the West African Elders Forum (WAEF) Election Mission to Nigeria, including former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and ex-Ghanaian President John Mahama, in a statement released on Tuesday in Abuja. The leaders also appealed for calm in the country and called on INEC to address the concerns raised by various stakeholders regarding the electoral process.
The statement emphasized that INEC’s compliance with the Electoral Act would help to retain the confidence of Nigerians in the ongoing collation of the election results. To ensure post-election peace, the elders also met with presidential candidates, including Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP), Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), and Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Earlier on Tuesday, the LP, PDP, and African Democratic Congress (ADC) criticized INEC’s deliberate refusal to respect the upload of results electronically as stipulated by Section 60 of the Electoral Act 2022. The parties claimed that there were “monumental disparities” between what party agents signed and what INEC officials announced in Abuja. They argued that the manual transmission of results had compromised the integrity of the election process and called for a cancellation of the election and for the electoral chief to step down.
Party agents had staged a walkout from the national collation center in Abuja on Monday after the INEC chief insisted that the process must continue despite not all results being electronically transmitted. Several party leaders had bitterly complained that INEC officials at the polling units were unable to upload election results to the IReV, and the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), both of which are new technologies introduced by the electoral body for the accreditation and electronic transmission of votes in this year’s polls.
On Saturday, elections for the office of the President, 360 House of Representatives, and 109 Senatorial seats were held in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, and Nigerians expect the declaration of results by the electoral umpire.
Below is the full text of the statement:
STATEMENT BY WEST AFRICAN ELDERS FORUM (WAEF) ON NIGERIA’S FEBRUARY 25, 2023, 2023 ELECTIONS ISSUED IN ABUJA, NIGERIA, FEBRUARY 28, 2023
The West Africa Elders Forum (WAEF) Election Mission to Nigeria, 2023, wishes to commend Nigerians for the resilience and patriotism displayed during the Presidential and National Assembly election which held on Saturday February 25, 2023.
In December 2022, we deployed a pre-election mediation mission led by former Sierra Leonean President, His Excellency Ernest Bai Koroma to interface with key stakeholders. Our Election Mission led by former Ghana president, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama which has been in the country since last week, witnessed election day proceedings on February 25, 2023 and has continued to observe the unfolding developments, since the collation process began.
Other members of the Mission include former Beninoise President His Excellency Boni Yayi, former Nigerian President His Excellency Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, former Vice President of The Gambia, Her Excellency Fatoumata Jallo Tambajang, former Burkinabe Prime Minister and President of the Economic Community of West African States His Excellency Kadre Ouedraogo, and former Deputy Chair of the African Union, Dr. Erastus Mwencha.
The Mission noted how Nigerians across the country demonstrated faith and patriotism in their country, defying many challenges to perform their civic duties. While the elections were peaceful in a number of places, challenges of delay in arrival of electoral materials, voter suppression, ballot box vandalization and incidents of violence in some states, created anxiety among citizens who were passionate to cast their ballots.
We commend Nigerians for the calmness, patience and maturity they have continued to exhibit as they wait for the collation process to be concluded.
The Mission notes that some political parties and concerned citizens have raised procedural questions and allegations of infractions of the electoral law in the process of collation of results. We call on all aggrieved parties to document and present their claims to INEC, in accordance with the Electoral Act 2022.
The Mission notes the imperative of retaining the confidence of Nigerians in the ongoing electoral process and, therefore, urges the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to thoroughly investigate those concerns and comply with the electoral law and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in the process of collating the election results.
We reiterate that Nigeria is a major stakeholder in the sustainability of democracy in West Africa and the responsibility of maintaining the nation’s thriving democracy and the general peace of our sub-region rest on all our shoulders, especially on the integrity of INEC and other election management bodies in West Africa, during elections. We therefore urge INEC to live up to its responsibility of delivering free, fair and credible elections, in accordance with the nation’s laws.
WAEF urges political parties, candidates and their supporters to remain calm and peaceful while awaiting the final outcome of the electoral process.
As former leaders who are committed to peace and stability in our sub-region, we have begun a round of consultations with some of the presidential candidates and other key stakeholders, taking to them our message of hope, understanding and peace.
So far, WAEF have held meetings with some of the presidential candidates including the Presidential candidate of the New Nigeria People’s Party Dr. Rabiu Kwankwaso and the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in Abuja.
This afternoon we also held consultations with the All Progressives Congress Presidential candidate Senator Bola Tinubu and the Labour Party Presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, in an expanded meeting that included the Heads of Missions of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU), His Excellency Ernest Bai Koroma and His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta, respectively, as well as the President of the ECOWAS Commission, His Excellency Dr. Omar Alieu Touray.
We have continued, in all of these meetings, to urge the candidates and their supporters to maintain peace and use all available legitimate means to sort out their concerns and grievances. We hope to sustain this Mission until the electoral processes are successfully concluded.
We, therefore, urge everyone to be circumspect in their actions and responsibilities, during this moment in order not to jeopardize the collective stability and peace of the nation.
H.E. John Dramani Mahama
President of the Republic of Ghana
Head of WAEF Mission to Nigeria’s 2023
H.E. Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan
President, Federal Republic of Nigeria (2010-2015)