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2019 Polls: Criticism Helps Electoral Process Get Stronger – INEC Chair

Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said the criticisms and observations of the 2019 general elections by different stakeholders are pertinent to making the country’s electoral system work better.

Yakubu said this at a review of the 2019 general elections with 387 Electoral Officers from the 19 Northern states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Abuja on Monday.

According to him, no electoral process in the world is perfect and would, therefore, be open to various degree of disapproval from the different actors in the process.

He, however, noted that those who genuinely care about the electoral process would provide constructive criticism, while those against the process condemn all actions and decisions implemented. 

Yakubu said: “Anything (criticism) that anybody is going to say about the conduct of (2019) elections in Nigeria is secondary to the kind of information we are going to hear from those who truly conducted elections at the level that matters; at the level of the Polling Units.

“Where we should be criticised, I consistently say that friends will criticise you, but your enemies will condemn you. But criticism is the basis for making any system work.

“No democracy and no electoral process is perfect. Every democracy is work in progress.

“So, feel free to make suggestions on all the issues relating to the whole process of conducting elections. You have the protection of the chairman that whatever you say will not be used against you.”

Yakubu praised the Electoral Officers, particularly at the local government levels, for their commitment, noting that the electoral commission registered over 14 million new voters within 18 months.

Speaking earlier, Mustapha Lecky, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of its Planning, Monitoring and Strategy Committee, said the review aimed at evaluating the conduct of the elections and gain some insight ahead of the 2023 elections.

He noted that the task for the 2019 polls is not complete until the submission, validation and publication of a report by the commission.

Lecky said: “Our primary job of conducting election, in this case the just concluded 2019 general elections, will not be deemed to have been completely concluded until a report of the 2019 general elections is submitted, validated and published as part of INEC accountability to Nigerians.

“This process is essentially a sort of SWOT analysis, involving identification of our strengths, performance, weaknesses or lapses, opportunities missed or taken, as well as impediments, bottlenecks and/or threats uncovered across all the processes before, during and the fallouts since the conduct of the 2019 general elections.

“The commission is aiming to be comprehensive in its attempts to review all the issues connected to the general election; from preparation through execution and its aftermath, hence the review timetable and schedule of activities has provided for consultations at multi-levels.

“The commission, over the past two weeks undertook state-level reviews, in each and every state of the federation. All the EOs present at this meeting were part of their respective states review exercise.

“Nevertheless, because of the very critical roles that EOs play in our elections, it was deemed fit to have a more focused discussion with them, with a slightly modified template to dig deeper with regards to certain issues.

“In addition, we feel there is value to be added by pairing EOs across states for them to share experiences and make more robust recommendations arising from this cross-fertilization of experiences and ideas.”

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