- The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has shared its thoughts on the just concluded Edo governorship election
- The foremost pro-democracy group stated that the election was relatively credible
- The group, however, stated that there were challenges and infractions which dogged the process
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A foremost pro-democracy think tank, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has rated the conduct and outcome of the September 19 governorship election in Edo state as relatively credible, despite the challenges and infractions, which dogged the process.
CDD which deployed 250 stationary and roving observers to keep a close eye on key processes in the election, handed down its verdict in a final observation briefing held on Monday, September 21.
The Centre noted that the election was relatively peaceful when compared to other polls recently conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
CDD commended a vast array of stakeholders involved in the process, which is praised for working tirelessly to ensure the tense atmosphere in the build-up to the election did not result in violence on a scale, as envisaged.
In the final observation report signed by CDD Director, Idayat Hassan, and head, Election Analysis Centre (EAC), Professor Adele Jinadu, the group further described the generally peaceful conduct was a refreshing development.
“It (the peaceful conduct) points the way away from the “degeneration” that has historically been the country’s sad experience with electoral outcomes, and towards outcomes that significantly reflect the mandate of the electorate.
“In this respect, the election potentially augurs well for the future of democracy and development in the country, particularly in view of the determination shown by the electorate to protect their mandate and ensure that it counted in the critical penultimate months to the election day.
“In addition to the electorate, the credible outcome of the election was due to the activities of various strategic stakeholders, particularly the Independent National Electoral Commission, and to the pace-keeping efforts, the Oba of Benin and the Abdulsalam Abubakar led National Peace Committee, who worked and intervened firmly, under a very dire pre-election context that portended violent election conflicts.”
However, the CDD warned that there remain certain anomalies in the process, which if left unaddressed could turn the current euphoria into a mirage that would evaporate, precipitating a reversal to the status quo ante of the country’s experience of seriously flawed electoral outcomes.
The group pointed at the decline in voter turnout as a trend, which would not augur well for the robust participation of the electorate, including marginalized groups.
Backing its assertions with figures, CDD noted that in 2003, voter turnout stood at 78 per cent of 1,432,891 registered voters.
In 2020 however, only 25.2 per cent of voters turned out to cast their ballot out of a registered number of 2,210,534.
CDD figures similarly showed a consistent decline in voter turnout from 78 per cent in 2003 to 40.5percent in 2012, and further down to 32.3 per cent in 2016.
CDD, therefore, expressed worries that the further decline in voter turnout in 2020, which came down to a low of 25.2 per cent could be read as a steady loss of faith in the electoral process, as well the entire democratic system of governance.
Speaking on other critical issues in the electoral process, the Centre identified the controversial modality used for selecting the governorship candidates of the two major political parties as a major cause of tension during the electioneering.
On the performance of INEC, the report pointed at the malfunction of smart cards readers malfunctioned in a number of polling units, as a sticky issue, which would have to be dealt with in future elections. It, however, acknowledged that the overall performance was smooth across the state.
To improve the conduct and credibility of future elections, CDD handed down a number of recommendations for electoral reforms, which it stressed were necessary to build on the gains of the election; and address some of the problems in the electoral process.
Legit.ng had earlier reported that President Muhammadu Buhari also congratulated Obaseki following his successful re-election as the governor of Edo state.
In a statement released by his spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, President Buhari advised Obaseki to show grace and humility in victory.