Following the out of last Saturday’s governorship election in Ondo State, the Coalition of Civil Society Groups has faulted the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), saying it was partial and played to the gallery during the exercise.
The group, which also condemned the electoral body for the wrong use of the Young Democratic Party (YDP) logo on the ballot papers supported the party’s position that it was robbed of votes.
This was contained in a statement by the civil society group review and assessment report of the Ondo State election signed by the its Vice President, North, Alhaji Sidi Ali.
The statement reads, “The Coalition of Civil Society Groups having reviewed the processes and activities prior to, during and immediately after the last Ondo governorship elections in Ondo State, hereby give our assessment of the process. Our position is informed by the reports of 30 Civil Society Organisations drawn from our membership that independently monitored the entire electioneering process.
“It was our observation that the INEC played to the gallery by involving certain political parties and interests more in the process than others. INEC which ought to have been neutral played to the media script of a supposed “three-horse-race” when in actual fact there were 27 duly registered national political parties in the race. INEC along those lines did the bidding of certain political interests by carrying on as if there were only 3contestants and hence their preparations and publicity of this election by implication exempted the others from the race at the expense of the so called bigger parties.
“If we are to deemphasise the influence of money from our politics, INECs actions and body language in that election has robbed Nigerians of confidence in a truly participatory democracy where the will of the masses is captured and articulated.
“The Coalition of Civil Society Groups fully supports the position of the Young Democratic Party that it was robbed of votes it had canvassed for at great expense of time, human and material resources through a very extensive campaign. We condemn the disregard that the electoral body has shown for the young men and women who came together to have their voice heard in that state.”
According to the group, the unilateral decision of INEC to substitute the logo of the YDP is travesty of justice and democracy that must not be swept under the carpet. INEC carelessly substituted a party emblem even after the party had campaigned and built their manifesto around the message of: the light has come. It is even more flummoxing to independent observers that INEC took this direction even after it had uploaded the current logo of the party on its website. That such a blunder could have been committed so soon after same happened in Edo reveals an emerging pattern and a predetermined script being played out and such clandestine agenda will be resisted vehemently by the people of Nigeria.
“We therefore call on INEC to redeem itself by retracing it’s steps and cancelling the entire sham it carried out in Ondo state in the name of an election to give all contestants a level playing field to test the popularity of their programmes. Nigeria cannot continue to be run like a commodity available for the highest bidder, we find ourselves lagging behind peer countries because of the harm done by these selfish elitist interests against the needs of the larger masses. We call on INEC to tender an unreserved apology to this fledgling political party and others so marginalised in the build up to Ondo election 2016.
“All Civil Society organisations, spread across the length and breadth of Nigeria that make up this Coalition, assure the masses that we will continue to defend their interests by demanding that government continues to work for them and that their voices are heard on issues that affect them.”