By Funmilola Gboteku/Oluwatope Lawanson
Lagos – Yiaga Africa, an NGO, has expressed concern over technological challenges and non-compliance with public health guidelines during the recent bye election conducted by INEC in Nasarawa state constituency.
The Executive Director, Mr Samson Itodo made this known on Thursday, in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
Itodo urged INEC to collaborate with security agencies to enforce wearing of facemasks and maintaining physical distance between voters to avoid such occurrences in the upcoming governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states.
The YIAGA boss also urged INEC to ensure that technological tools and devices were configured, tested and fully charged before deployment on election day.
Itodo, however, noted that the election was peaceful with no incidence of violence in spite of the low voters’ turnout, technological challenges and non-compliance with some public health guidelines.
“The security agencies maintained professional conduct throughout the election.
“The voters in Nasarawa LGA deserve commendation for their resilience to participate in the election in spite of the logistical hiccups that resulted in the late commencement of voting in several polling units.
“While INEC took some measures to follow COVID-19 health guidelines, it experienced challenges with maintaining physical distance between voters and ensuring that all voters wore face masks while at the polls.
“It is evident that INEC and other health institutions will need to take measures based on lessons learned from this election to guarantee the enforcement of health safety guidelines during subsequent elections amidst COVID-19, ” Itodo said.
He noted that other finding made by YIAGA during the elections was that public access to polling units’ results improved with the introduction of the INEC Results Viewing (IReV) platform.
Itodo said that the innovation enhanced the transparency of the voting process as polling officials uploaded images of polling unit level results on the portal.
“Yiaga Africa citizen observers reported delays in the commencement of accreditation and voting in several polling units due to the failure of the newly introduced tablets to recapture voters’ facial identity.
“With the closure of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic, polling officials encountered difficulty in securing tables and chairs for polling unit set up. This resulted in delays in the polling unit set up despite the early arrival of polling officials.
“According to INEC, the turnout of voters for the election was 17.2 per cent which is quite low,” he said.
Itodo said that polling officials should be adequately trained on new technological tools ahead of election day to ensure effective management.
He said that commission should scale Results Viewing (IReV) portal to all subsequent elections.
Itodo added that INEC should ensure election results conform to open election data principles such as timeliness and granularity.
He said that the commission should also continue to review its voting processes to allow voters to cast ballots without interference and intimidation.
NAN reports that as a precursor to the upcoming 2020 governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conducted a bye-election on Saturday, August 8, 2020, in the Nasarawa Central State Constituency to fill the vacancy created by the death of Hon. Adamu Suleiman Ibrahim.
The bye-election was conducted in 44 polling units across seven wards in Nasarawa Local Government Area (LGA) with a total of 71,919 registered voters.