After EU report, INEC commences post-2023 election review, gives reasons for keeping mute


Following the release of an independent report by a branch of the European Union (EU), the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) began its post-election review of the general elections. The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU-EOM) had recently published a report highlighting shortcomings in the law and electoral administration, which affected the conduct of well-run and inclusive elections and eroded trust in INEC.

Addressing the Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) during a meeting in Abuja, INEC Chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu explained the reason for the commission’s silence on the varied opinions expressed regarding the conduct, process, and outcome of the 2023 general elections.

Mr. Yakubu acknowledged the existence of diverse opinions expressed by various stakeholders regarding the February and March elections, including political parties, candidates, observers, analysts, and the general public. He emphasized that INEC welcomed these opinions as long as they aimed to improve future elections and strengthen Nigeria’s democracy.

He explained that INEC consciously refrained from joining the public discussions immediately after the election for several reasons, including not wanting to undermine the ongoing litigation process. INEC’s approach was to listen, draw lessons, and conduct its own post-election review without pre-empting the process.

Mr. Yakubu highlighted that several issues related to the election were sub-judice, and INEC did not want to influence or favor any litigants beyond its legal obligations. The commission aimed to maintain a neutral stance and avoid being seen as defensive or biased.

However, he emphasized the importance of evaluating the entire election process to gain insights and learn valuable lessons for future elections. Despite the varied views on the 2023 polls, Mr. Yakubu acknowledged positive aspects of the election, including the successful management of security challenges that had threatened to disrupt the process.

Mr. Yakubu highlighted that concerns over security threats during the elections did not materialize, and the polls were largely peaceful. Despite currency and fuel challenges, as well as attacks on personnel and facilities, the Commission successfully proceeded with the elections as scheduled.

He noted that for the first time in the last four general elections, the Presidential and National Assembly elections were held as planned. The use of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) for voter accreditation received high scores from voters, with a 98% success rate compared to the 29.2% success rate of the Smart Card Reader in the 2019 elections.

Mr. Yakubu emphasized that, despite differing opinions on the election outcome, it was a fair reflection of Nigeria’s complex multi-party democracy. The elections produced diverse outcomes, with five political parties winning state governorships, seven parties winning senatorial seats, eight parties represented in the House of Representatives, and nine parties in State Houses of Assembly. This diversity demonstrated a departure from the days of single-party dominance in Nigerian politics.

He acknowledged that there were challenges, including structural, infrastructural, and human factors. However, INEC is committed to addressing these challenges through its post-election review engagements, aiming to improve future elections.

Overall, Mr. Yakubu expressed optimism about the progress made and the lessons learned from the 2023 elections, underscoring the importance of continuous improvement and the commitment to Nigeria’s democratic process.

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