Despite reservations from some opposition parties, about 75 political parties yesterday said the results of the 2019 general elections were credible and acceptable.
They also passed a vote of confidence on the National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu.
But they, however, pleaded with President Muhammed Buhari to sign the Electoral Amendment Bill into law when represented to him by the National Assembly.
They asked INEC to “replicate the National Collation Centre in all the states and local government councils.”
The parties recommended that the presidential, National Assembly, governorship as well as the House of Assembly elections be held the same day, to address the challenge of voter apathy.
The parties made their position known after a two-day round-table on the evaluation of the last polls in Abuja.
The round-table with the theme: “The role and performances of stakeholders in the 2019 general elections, issues, challenges and prospects” was well attended by political stakeholders, including members of the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs).
The event, which was graced by the immediate past Vice President of Sierra Leone, Alhaji Sam Sumana, and chaired by Prof. Remi Aiyede, took place at International Conference Centre (ICC) in Abuja.
The parties said: “The Roundtable critically analyzed the 2019 general elections and the roles of major stakeholders and congratulated INEC, Nigerians and indeed all stakeholders for successfully conducting the elections on schedule.
“The round-table noted with satisfaction the zeal, commitment and cooperation of all stakeholders with the electoral body (INEC) to ensure free, fair and credible elections in 2019.
“The round-table, after a comprehensive review of the conduct of 2019 general elections, passes a vote of confidence on the National Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu for the successful conduct of the election.”
Acting Executive Director, Centre for Transparent Advocacy (CTA), Faith Nwadishi, said INEC, as the “umpire of the general elections, proved quite independent in the way and manner it responded to the unexpected challenges thrown its way by the stakeholders in the process and other unforeseen circumstances during the last general election.”
Nwadishi went on: “Of note is how it bravely prevented the ruling party from fielding candidates in Zamfara in its determination to follow the rules no matter whose ox is gored.
“More crucially, on the ground, during election and voting day, it refused to be intimidated by threats and violence unleashed on its officials and ad-hoc staff leading to some certificates of return being withheld by INEC though this is now subject to litigations.”
But she pleaded with the political class to “take internal democracy seriously”.
In a communiqué after the conference, the chairmen of the parties said the INEC chairman performed well.
The communiqué read in part: “The round-table after a comprehensive review of the conduct of the 2019 general elections passes a vote of confidence on the (INEC) Prof Yakubu for the successful conduct of the election, and notes with satisfaction the transparency in communication and regular engagement of stakeholders at the national, state and local government levels which ensured that everybody was carried along in the process.”
The participants made far-reaching recommendations on how to improve electoral system ahead of subsequent elections.
According to them, President Buhari should as a matter of urgency, when represented by the National Assembly, sign the document into law.
They said: “The round-table calls on President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the Electoral Amendment Bill into law when re-presented to him by the National Assembly to save the country from the problems associated with the extent law.
“In order to address dwindling turnout of voters after the first election and increase the zeal to elect credible leaders The round-table recommends the conduct of the three principal elections, viz; presidential/national assembly election, governorship/state assembly elections and chairmanship/councillorship elections on the same day.
“This will save cost, ensure emergence of quality leadership, the integrity of the ballot, large voter turnout and guarantee improved security on Election Day.”
“The round-table equally called for the scrapping of ad-hoc arrangement by the electoral body in the conduct of elections, just as it recommended that dates for possible run-off, rerun or inconclusive poll should be made known while scheduling election time table.
“INEC should strengthen the capacity of its polling staff through training and retraining particularly on the handling of the card readers, assisting voters as well as other electoral procedures to ensure transparency and credibility during future elections.
“INEC should consider, recruiting permanent staff whose schedule should be collation of results, train them thoroughly for the assignment to save the nation the embarrassment of ad hoc collation officers.
“Efforts must be intensified to ensure proper coordination of Inter Agency Committee on Election Security (ICES) and the non-partisan deployment of security personnel to all the polling units to ensure peaceful conduct of polls.”