Ahead of the 2023 general election, the International Press Centre (IPC) has appealed to the Federal Government to remove policies and programmes capable of obstructing credible elections.
The Executive Director of IPC, Mr Lanre Arogundade made the call at a forum organized by the Center in collaboration with Yiaga Africa tagged: “Media/ CSO Roundtable 2023 Elections: Avoiding Landmines, Overcoming Obstacles And Conducting credible elections” in Abuja, during the project funded by the European Union Support for Democratic Governance in Nigeria ll.
Mr Arogundade specifically called on President Muhammadu Buhari to use his good office to resolve all monetary policies with the Central Bank of Nigeria and release money to commercial banks for citizens to have access to their money, towards preventing voter apathy.
He explained that Nigerians are worried over the scarcity of cash in Banks, and pointed out that the difficulty the masses were going through to have access to their savings for daily needs, might discourage many from coming out to vote if the situation is not checked and addressed promptly.
His words: “even though we have assurances from the INEC Chairman that CBN will make money available for its logistics, but there are also others who need money for the elections, the Journalists, security agents, Observers, that will move around. Infact the Voters themselves may be discouraged from coming out to vote if this situation persists.
“As against what has been set to be the intension of this policy, it may actually lead to greater vote buying than we have actually witnessed in the history of this country. Because people are desperate and cannot get money to buy biscuits for their kids, they may be willing to take as little as #500 to #2000 to vote against their conscience.
“Security Agencies and the Judiciary; we have also called on them that their allegiance should be to the constitution of the Federal Republic Of Nigeria, and they should not do anything that will negate that allegiance for whatever vested interest” Arogundade cautioned.
In a remark, the Executive Director, Yiaga Africa , Mr Samson Itodo who was of the opinion that justice is rooted in public confidence, called on the Judiciary to put national Interest over personal interest.
Contributing, the CEO, TAF Africa, Ambassador Jake Epelle advocated for an inclusive election, adding that the foundation will deploy 700 Observers nationwide to monitor and report how Persons With Disabilities, PWDs were treated at various polling units .
While calling on INEC to ensure that the assistive devices for PWDs were effectively utilized, Amb. Epelle urged political parties candidates to stop attacking each other and the media.
Executive Director, Institute of Media and Society, Dr Akin Akingbolu called on political parties, security agencies and the electoral body to give a level playing field to Journalists before, during and after the elections.
On reliability of BVAS and collection of PVCs, the INEC Director Of Voter Education and Publicity, Mr Victor Awko said the commission has put all necessary measures in place to ensure that nobody is disenfranchised, including assistive devices for Persons With Disabilities.
On preparedness to deliver credible elections, the INEC representative said the commission had completed 12 out of 14 activities listed, and assured that the elderly, PWDs, and heavily pregnant women will be given priority to cast their votes.