By Clare Nwaiwu
International Election Monitoring Groups which monitored the July 14 Ekiti governorship have urged President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the amended Electoral Act bill passed by the National Assembly and awaiting his assent.
The groups, International Republican Institute (IRI) and National Democratic Institute (NDI) which held a Press joint Conference weekend, on their observation during the recently concluded Ekiti gubernatorial election said unless the president signs the amended Act, the electoral umpire would not be empowered to address most of the challenges of conducting elections in the country.
The groups also raised concerns over the incidents of vote buying and bribery, which, they said, played prominent roles in the Ekiti election and warned that such activities may mar the 2019 General Elections if not nipped in the bud.
The NDI and IRI however declined to give their assessment on their outcome of the Ekiti election, pointing out that it was not their duty to give judgment on the outcome of the election. They said their role was primarily to observe elections which, they affirmed that they have been doing since the country returned to democracy in 1999.
The groups urged the Federal Government to ensure that illegal activities such as vote buying on election day, is frontally tackled and eradicated from the country’s electoral process.
The leader of the NDI/IRI delegation, Dr. Pauline Baker, noted; “it is evident that Nigeria’s 2019 elections will be closely contested. It is also clear that Nigerians are committed to democracy and ensuring that every election is an improvement over the previous one.
“While the IRI/NDI delegation observed that the election management body-INEC- has undertaken several innovative steps to reinforce the integrity of the electoral system, continued effort must be made by a cross session of Nigerian actors to enhance citizen confidence and participation in the process,” Baker said.
On the vote buying incident in Ekiti, the delegation noted; “The Watching the Vote (WTV) group deployed citizen election observers to a representative sample of polling sites across the state and recorded that 8 percent of sampled polling units experienced incidents of vote buying or bribery on election day”.
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