The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been tasked to rectify all the lapses observed in the 25 February national elections and use same to conduct a hitch-free state polls this Saturday.
The call was made a group of elder statesmen under the aegis of The Compatriots.
In a post-election statement signed by its Chairman, who is also former Governor of Akwa-Ibom State, Obong Victor Attah, the group applauded Nigerians for their enthusiastic and orderly participation in the just-concluded national elections and urged them to sustain the tempo in the forthcoming state polls.
“It is clear that a lot of work needs to be done to restore confidence in the systems and processes of INEC. With the state-level elections holding this week, it is very important that all faulty systems and processes of INEC be rectified; that all preparations as well as provision of security are seriously addressed”, the statement reads in part.
The socio-political and good governance advocacy group, however, expressed grave concern over reports of violence in some parts of the country as well as “the adverse impact of election management which left much to be improved upon because of the process gaps and lack of transparency during the collation of the results”.
Attah noted that mass participation of the youth in the electoral process remains an encouraging development for the political future of the country.
He commended aggrieved presidential candidates for exploring the legal window to challenge the outcome of the result.
He said: “The Compatriots note with deep regret the violence in some areas and loss of lives associated with the process during the voting on election day. Nigerians died during the election on the 25th including the youth corpers in Rivers State. Based on media reports, they were killed by thugs during election for refusing to compromise the process. These corpers are heroes of our aspiring Nation. While we pray for the repose of the souls of all those who lost their lives and for their families who must now cope with this unimaginable loss, we urge that no effort be spared to bring the culprits to justice.
“The global expectation for democratic elections is that they will be transparent, free, fair, and credible. Only an election that reflects the sovereign will of the electorate can convey legitimacy on any government.
“We therefore note with regret that our elections were tarnished by process failures and lack of transparency. Now that the first phase of the process is over, the contestants have either decided to affirm their victories or challenge their loss in court. The decision of aggrieved contestants to seek redress through the courts reinforces the foundation of our democratic system and the rule of law. It is critical to the sustainability of our system that the judiciary is impartial and retains credibility with the people. It is therefore vital that the judiciary dispense justice in a manner that reflects impartiality and consistency with the merits of the cases”.
The group said that much work was needed to restore confidence in the systems and processes of the electoral body, even as it called on Nigerians not to despair, remain law-bidding and once again go out in large numbers to exercise their inalienable sovereign rights to elect their leaders and representatives during the 11 March state elections.