The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has said that the election in Edo state was another litmus test for a broad assessment of the commitment of relevant actors and institutions to deepening Nigeria’s democratic experience
At a news conference in Abuja on Thursday, Prof. Jibrin Ibrahim, a fellow at the centre, said it was the collective responsibility of political actors and institutions for the successful conduct of the election.
Ibrahim said that the character of the electoral process, and the credibility of its outcome in Edo State hold far reaching implications for the entire democratic process in Nigeria.
He urged the citizens of Edo not to allow themselves to be used to disrupt the election.
Ibrahim explained that the peaceful conduct of the forthcoming elections in Edo and Ondo states would help to strengthened the nations democracy.
According to him, political actors responsible for the management of the electoral process owe a collective duty to ensure eligible voters are free to exercise their franchise in an atmosphere that is both peaceful and participatory.
“The election coming up in Edo on Saturday will constitute a very important litmus test for the country’s commitment to the conduct of credible, free and fair elections.
” With this in view, the CDD in line with its practice of monitoring elections sent out monitors to Edo state for on-the-spot assessment of the pre-election environment in the state.
” Every Nigerian holds it as a duty to ensure and guarantee the conduct of free and fair elections in the country.
“This is very important because of the role of Nigeria in Africa and the expectations that that role carries from our friends, brothers and sisters in African countries and from the international community in general.
“So, what happens in Edo state is very critical and that is why we believe and want to use this medium to appeal to the people of Edo to come out and vote, but to do so peacefully, defend their mandate and not allow those who want to scuttle the elections to do so.
” Because doing so will be a set back not only for Edo state but the country as a whole and for our reputation abroad,” he said.
Also, Miss Idayat Hassan, CDD Director- General, said that the expectation, in line with the hopes of citizens in the state and across Nigeria, was to have a credible elections whose process would be transparent.
Hassan called for the sanction of any electoral laws and regulations and as well other sanctions targeting election riggers and those who engage in attempts to subvert the genuine will of the people.
She lamented the recalcitrance of political actors and their surrogates who continue to instruct their die-hard supporters to ensure 100 per cent victory at all cost in their respective polling units.
According to her, CDD expects the leading contestants in communicating to their supporters, to make it clear they (contestants) do not endorse any form of electoral malfeasance.
She stressed the need to guide against the history of incidents of electoral violence and widespread electoral malpractice in previous elections particularly the 2016 off cycle and the 2019 general elections.
On the issue of fake news, she said the centre was monitoring the role of fake news and misinformation in the electoral process.
According to her, the fake news, disinformation and misinformation ecosystem in Edo State is driven by a variety of platforms on social media.
” We identified that the likelihood of violence particularly with two trends that has been earlier mentioned on the need to deliver your pooling units 100 per cent directive given by the political actors, the party claim and counter claim of victory violence is likely to be across three senatorial district
” In Edo central ,one would have thought that there is no violence but it represent the smooth region in this election. But areas we identified include Etsako West, Etsako East and Etsako Central among several others.
“Again to talk about fake news, I think this is very prevalent and it will likely also spike violence and induce our voter apathy on the day of election.”
Meanwhile, Prof. Adele Jinadu, Chairperson, Election Analysis Centre, CDD said vote trading had been reported as an emerging trend in the pattern of vote buying wherein it was the voters who are now searching for the highest bidder among the political camps to sell their vote to.
” This election in Edo and the forthcoming election in Ondo state will be key determinant in terms of defining the direction of our future elections.
” Getting Edo right is therefore fundamental to returning our electoral process to credibility and integrity.
” We talk in our statement about vote trading and want to emphasise that vote trading may be a misnomer in terms of how we are using the concept because trading is a legal activity, but buying and selling of vote is a crime and therefore cannot be taken as ordinary trading,” he said.
Jinadu, who called for attitudinal change of citizenry toward electoral processes, said full participation during election word help in the betterment of the country.