The National Elections held in Ekiti State remains one of the best in Nigeria, observers said on Monday. The group said the election was not however without challenges.
In a preliminary report released in Ado-Ekiti, the Nigerian Human Rights Community, (NHRC) a coalition of several civil society groups said the transparency, effectiveness and promptness of the process remains a reference point for future elections in Nigeria. It added that the fact that Ekiti was the first to release its result indicated the effectiveness of the process.
The groups aid INEC needs to improve on provision of more polling units and employment or more ad hoc staff to speed up the process.
The Nigerian Human Rights Community, (NIHRC) had deployed 400 poll monitors in 16 local Government areas and 19 Local Council Development Areas, (LCDAs) in Ekiti State.
The group commended the State Governor , Mr Biodun Oyebanji, for providing a non-violent environment and for personally leading the campaign for free and fair election ahead of the Saturday poll adding that the Governor demonstrated unique statesmanship.
In the release signed by two Programme Officers of the Monitoring Exercise Taiwo Adeleye and Fred Ojinika said the results of the election expressed the will of the people. The exercise was coordinated by Mr Adewale Adeoye
The Rights coalition said there were no violent incidence or major disturbances in all the 177 wards, local governments and in all the polling units adding that the development underlines the importance the people attach to democracy as the best alternative in governance.
“We think Nigeria needs to learn a lot from the conduct of the National Election in Ekiti State. The election materials arrived as early as 7am in 90 percent of the polling units. The party agents conducted themselves in the most civil manner without pronounced cases of skirmishes. The security operatives were well detailed and professional in their conducts. We commend the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, (NSCDC) officials and the police for their professional conducts during the exercise” the statement said.
The group said there was lack of intimidation of voters, no vote buying while polling boxes were not snatched or destroyed during the exercise.
“We see this as a very impressive development. It’s a lesson Nigeria needs to emulate.”
NIHRC said reports indicated that the Governor and the traditional rulers played critical roles in pre election campaign for peace and conflict prevention.
“One of the lessons is that the mindset, orientation and perspective of the political and cultural leadership is important in determining the outcome of elections.
Where political leaders consciousnesses preach against violence through constructive engagement with stakeholders, irrespective of their political leaning, the prospect of having a free and fair election will be very high” the statement said.
The group commended the State Governor Abiodun Oyebanji for his moral forthrightness and his commitment to ensure a peaceful and violent free election.
“The Governor provided true leadership. Respondents said he consulted widely with all the political parties and drew commitment of non violence. It worked for the outcome of the hitch free election.”
The group however listed the grew areas to be low turnout, lack of mobility for voters and the negative impact of the Central Bank of Nigeria, (CBN) cash crunch which denied many voters the opportunity of traveling to their communities to cast their votes.
“We also observed that Ekiti needs more polling booths. The distance between one polling booth and the other fall below global standards. We urge INEC to list Ekiti State as one of the communities that are in crucial need of more polling units. From our estimation, Ekiti needs no fewer than 500 more polling units to be able to meet the electoral expectations of the population.