- Samson Omale
U.S. Urges INEC To Address Concerns Ahead Of March 11 Polls
The U.S. has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to address technical hitches reportedly associated with the use of Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) before the governorship and state assembly elections on March 11.
Ned Price, Spokesperson for the State Department, in a statement, said Nigerians were clearly within their rights to have such concerns and should have high expectations for their electoral processes in the just-concluded Presidential poll.
“We join other international observers in urging INEC to improve in the areas that need the most attention ahead of the March 11 elections.
“We understand that many Nigerians and some of the parties have expressed frustration about the manner in which the process was conducted.
“They have also expressed frustration about the shortcomings of technical elements that were used for the first time in a presidential election cycle,’’ he said.
Price, however, advised the aggrieved presidential candidates to use all legal means to correct the anomaly.
“There are well-established mechanisms in place for the adjudication of electoral disputes, and we encourage any candidate or party seeking to challenge the outcome to pursue redress through those mechanisms.
“We call on all parties, candidates, and supporters to refrain from violence or inflammatory rhetoric at this critical time,’’ the spokesperson said.
In addition, Price commended the active participation of civil society and the media for advancing electoral norms and political discourse on issues of importance to citizens.
He said the U.S. noted with concern reports that numerous members of the media were attacked during the course of the election.
“We urge the government, security forces, political actors, and all citizens to respect the media’s critical role by refraining from any damaging acts against them and ensuring accountability for such acts when they do occur.
“We also congratulate the Nigerian people, especially the large number of youths who are relatively new to the political process, for demonstrating their strong commitment to democracy.’’
According to Price, the United States congratulates the people of Nigeria, President-elect Tinubu, and all political leaders following the declaration by INEC on the results of the February 25 presidential election.
He said that the competitive election represented a new period for Nigerian politics and democracy.
“Each of the top three candidates was the leading vote-getter in 12 states, a remarkable first in Nigeria’s modern political era, reflecting the diversity of views that characterized the campaign and the wishes of Nigeria’s voters.’’
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, on Wednesday announced that Tinubu, a former Lagos State governor and the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), won the election with the majority of votes cast across Nigeria.
The APC candidate polled 8,794,726 votes to defeat fellow contenders – Atiku Abubakar of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) who polled 6,984,520 votes, Labour Party’s Peter Obi had 6,101,533 votes to come third and candidate of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), Rabiu Kwankwaso, who polled 1,496,687 votes to place a distant fourth.
Of the 36 states and FCT, Tinubu, Obi and Atiku won 12 states each while Kwankwaso won only Kano State.
The 12 states won by Tinubu are Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Kwara, Benue, Rivers, Borno, Zamfara, Jigawa, Ondo, Kogi and Niger.
Atiku of the PDP won Taraba, Osun, Akwa Ibom, Adamawa, Kaduna, Sokoto, Yobe, Bayelsa, Kebbi, Bauchi, Gombe and Katsina States.
Obi won the following states of Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo, Anambra, Abia, Delta, Edo, FCT, Plateau, Nasarawa, Lagos and Cross River.