Yiaga Africa has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to take a lesson from the smooth conduct of the just concluded Liberia’s election, toward improving on future elections.
Mr Bayo Balogun, a member of the Yiaga observer mission for the election, said this when he presented the preliminary findings of the Election Study and Observation Mission (ESOM) on the Liberian general election in Abuja on Tuesday.
Balogun, also the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Electoral Matters said that INEC needed to change the format of its ballot papers to include photographs and names of candidates to improve the quality of electoral preferences and reduce invalidated votes.
“Yiaga Africa’s Election Study and Observation Mission (ESOM) observed the design of the ballot papers used for the Presidential and National Assembly election.
“It contained the party symbol as well as the names and pictures of the candidates Presidential, Senate and the House of Representatives candidates.
” The format of the ballot papers provides multiple options for indicating a preferred choice,” he said.
Balogun said that the Liberian National Elections Commission (NEC) guidelines required voters to make a mark on the image of the candidate, party logo or square box on the ballot paper corresponding to the candidate of their choice.
He said that this format improved voters’ understanding of electoral preference, reducing the incidence of invalid votes.
He added that the mission observed that patriotism and national purpose drive citizens’ participation in the electoral process in Liberian election.
“We noticed an unwavering commitment to transparency over the speedy conclusion of the process including fidelity to rules respect of voting rights among others and if imbibed, it would help to improve Nigeria’s elections.
“We also noticed that the Liberian National Elections Commission (NEC) displayed high devotion to rules and procedures throughout the elections, adding that polling officials displayed excellent knowledge of the rules and enforced the guidelines at all election level,” he said.
Balogun also urged National Assembly to strengthen the electoral laws by making electronic transmission of results mandatory in future elections in Nigeria.
He said this should include the upload of polling unit-level results and results sheets used at different levels of results collation.
He urged political stakeholders in Nigeria to demonstrate a firm commitment to democracy and nation-building by upholding national values such as patriotism, integrity and public interest in electoral politics.
“INEC and state electoral commissions should commit to greater transparency in election administration through proactive disclosure of election information and consistent application of election rules and guidelines.
“The National Assembly and INEC should amend the electoral legal framework (Electoral Act and INEC Guidelines) to introduce early voting to allow eligible voters on essential election duties, such as security personnel, INEC staff, election observers, journalists, to vote at elections.
“The National Assembly should review the Electoral Act to address the ambiguities in the results collation and transmission process and the role of technology in the results management value chain.
“The National Assembly should strengthen the electoral law to make electronic transmission of results mandatory, including the upload of polling unit-level results and results sheets used at different levels of results collation,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Yiaga Africa deployed an election study mission to Liberia to observe the country’s General Election in October.
The delegation was led by a former Commissioner for Political Affairs at the African Union Commission and former Nigerian Ambassador to Guinea, Hajiya Aisha Abdullahi.