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Elections: OAN, 20 diaspora organisations urge INEC to correct hitches

THE Organisation for the Advancement of Nigerians and its partner organisations have called on the Independent National Electoral Commission to address hitches recorded during the February 25 polls ahead of the March 11 polls.

INEC conducted the presidential and National Assembly elections on Saturday, February 25, 2023. The results of the election across the country have since generated controversy.

Reacting to the conduct of the polls, the Chairman, Board of OAN, Olayinka DanSalami, in a statement signed on behalf of 20 Nigerian organisations, urged INEC to correct the errors ahead of the March 11 governorship and state assembly elections.

DanSalami said Nigerians were within their rights to have such concerns in the just-concluded elections.

“We hold INEC largely accountable for the tension in the land. INEC had promised that the new biometric voter identification technology would make the election the most credible yet, but malfunctions, long delays and slow results characterised the elections and have fueled the accusations of fraud.

“This must be corrected before the governorship election on March 11, 2023. The commission must be seen to be above board for stakeholders to have faith in the electoral process,’’ he said.

According to him, the organisations took notice of the discontent among some Nigerians over the outcome of the election results.

He said they noticed that many Nigerians, candidates and some political parties had expressed frustrations about the manner in which the process was conducted.

“They are clearly within their rights to express their grievances based on the high expectations they had in the electoral process and the assurances given by the electoral umpires.’’

Nevertheless, he said, they urged all candidates to emphasise to their supporters the unacceptability of violence in connection with the election.

“Political parties, candidates and their supporters aggrieved by the outcome of the election should ventilate their grievances within the ambit of the law to seek reprieve.

“We must guard against inflammatory statements that can stoke violence at this critical time in our country’s transition,’’ the official said.

DanSalami said the organisations called on President Buhari, state governors, election officials and security personnel to honour their international commitments and constitutional principles by encouraging, enabling and protecting free and fair elections.

He said the violence that emanated from parts of the country was senseless and a great threat to the credible electoral process.

“There is a lot at stake in this general election. The election is a consequential one that would determine the fate of over 200 million people, and impact on the African continent and the Black race.

“We affirm that Nigeria and Nigerians must remain as one and must not be divided along ethnic, religious and sectional lines.‘’

According to him, they are appealing to Nigerians to be cautious and ventilate their grievances over the competitive presidential and National Assembly elections within the ambit of the law.

He said that the organisations congratulated the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, Vice-President-elect, Kashim Shettima, and all the National Assembly members-elect.

“The 2023 general election is a critical and consequential election. In the build-up to the poll, we urge Nigerians to elect candidates they could trust to run the affairs of the country in their best interests.

“We have keenly followed developments in the homeland over the past few days because the 2023 election is of special interest to the diaspora Nigerians as we are a very important demographic.

“We send billions of dollars back home annually to boost the economy and to support our relations on whom we also have significant influence in this election.

“We also reached out to our families and associates back home and used our influence to encourage them to vote while some diasporas took the pains to travel home to register and to vote at the election.‘’

While he acknowledged that everybody could not win, he however said Nigeria and the majority of Nigerians won by having the opportunity to participate in the poll.

“We like to commend the youths for coming out in large numbers to exercise their civic responsibilities without fear.

“We, therefore, saw the outcome of the election first as victory for all Nigerians rather than for an individual or a political party for obvious reasons.

“Our country and the people have chosen the Presidential democracy as a form of government through which the country should be governed after decades of illegitimate rule by the military.

“Many Nigerians fought for this democracy and some paid the supreme sacrifices for us to have the hard-won democracy in the country today.’’

To that end, DanSalami said the groups urge the president-elect to form an inclusive government where the youths and other groups who did not vote for him are included in his administration.

“We urge him to address the suffering of the Nigerian masses and the chronic unemployment of the youths. We believe that the Nigeria of our dream is possible.

“And the Nigerians in the Diaspora stand ready to contribute our quotas to actualise a new Nigeria, if and when called upon,’’ he said.

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Naija Times