By ANGELA ATABO
ABUJA- A Coalition of Civil Society Organisations on Tuesday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to expedite action on appointment of new Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) Resident Electoral Commissioners (INEC), ahead of 2023 poll.
The coalition said this in a statement in Abuja, urging Buhari to nominate individuals with unquestionable integrity, professional competence, experience and political neutrality as INEC RECs in the country.
“The undersigned civil society organisations working to promote credible elections in Nigeria note that the tenure of 10 INEC Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) will expire in a short while.
“The tenure of others ended on July 6, while eight others are due to complete their term on Aug. 11.
“Cumulatively, INEC offices in 18 states will witness leadership transition 215 days (7 months) to the 2023 general election.
“The civil society community is concerned about the delay in the appointment of RECs into INEC especially in the 10 states where the tenure of the outgone RECs has expired,” it said.
The group said that the exit of the RECs would create leadership vacuum in those states and called for urgent action from the President and National Assembly toward filling the gap.
According to the coalition, the appointment of RECs has become very urgent considering that INEC is entering a critical phase in the preparations for the 2023 general elections, particularly with the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR).
It said that the CSOs commended the outgone and outgoing RECs for their hard work and meritorious service to the nation.
“Their stewardship as the heads of INEC in the states they served contributed to the marked improvement in elections in Nigeria and the strengthening of our democracy.
“As they finish their tenures, we wish them the best in their future endeavours.
“Effective electoral administration is contingent on the sufficiency of competent and professional staff with the legal power to exercise regulatory authority over electoral processes.
“An understaffed INEC at the state level is incapable of delivering credible, transparent, inclusive and conclusive elections at all levels,” the group said.
It said that it was important for Buhari to prioritise exercising his constitutional power to appoint new RECs into INEC adding that this would avail INEC the requisite manpower and leadership required for credible elections in 2023.
“The delay in the appointment will undermine the preparations for the general elections as well as diminish public confidence in the electoral process.
“It is critical for the legitimacy and success of the 2023 general election that the appointment of the RECs is concluded expeditiously in a transparent, non-partisan and professional manner. To this end, the civil society community makes the following call;
“That Buhari should be guided by the judgment of the Federal High Court on affirmative action in making nominations into INEC.
“In the same vein, the President should ensure the representation of Persons Living with Disability (PWDs) and young people in the appointment,” it said.
The coalition was made up of Yiaga Africa, International Press Centre, Nigerian Women’s Trust Fund, Centre of Media and Society, The Albino Foundation, Elect Her, Partners for Electoral Reform and Inclusive Friends Association.(NAN)