Despite the declaration of the former Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu as president-elect in the 2023 presidential election, Yiaga Africa, a pro-democracy and election monitoring outfit has said the results from Imo and Rivers States are inconsistent with its observation.
Addressing a press conference to collaborate or dispute the presidential election results released by INEC, Samson Itodo, Executive Director of Yiaga Africa said: “The state-level presidential results for Imo and Rivers are inconsistent with Yiaga Africa WTV projections for both states.
“For Rivers, INEC announced 231,591 votes for the All Progressives Congress (APC) or 44.2 per cent; 175,071 for Labour Party (LP) or 33.4 per cent; and 88,468 for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) or 16.9 per cent.
“This is in sharp contrast to the Yiaga Africa WTV estimates for Rivers which are: APC 21.7 per cent ± five per cent; for LP 50.8 per cent ±10.6 per cent; and for PDP 22.2 per cent ±6.5 per cent.
“For Imo, INEC announced 66,406 for APC or 14.2 per cent; 360,495 for LP or 77.1 per cent, and 30,234 for PDP or 6.5 per cent. Again, this is at variance with the Yiaga Africa WTV estimates for Imo which are: APC 5.1% ±2.3%; LP – 88.1 per cent ±3.8 per cent; and PDP 5.7 per cent ±2.3 per cent,” they said.
Yiaga Africa said that the position statement was based on reports from 1,454 to 1,507 (97%) of the sampled polling units in Nigeria.
Yiaga Africa however commended INEC for producing sensitive materials locally and making sure they arived early enough.
Notwithstanding, it said, “Despite this action, the election day process was fraught with widespread logistical challenges resulting in the late arrival of polling officials and late opening of polling stations across the country particularly in the south-east and south-south geopolitical zones.
“Due to logistical challenges, some polling units failed to open on election day. Yiaga Africa redeployed observers to 20 of its 1,507 sampled polling units affected by logistical hiccups on Saturday, February 25, 2023. Observers reported that INEC failed to redeploy and conduct elections in 13 (less than 1%) of sampled polling units.
“Voting was extended to the late hours in some polling units affected by logistical hiccups. Yiaga Africa commends the voters who waited patiently to vote late into the night and to watch the counting of the ballots in the early hours of the morning.
“In the course of the election, Yiaga Africa expressed concerns about the delay in uploading polling unit results for the presidential election on the INEC Election Results Viewing Portal (IReV).
“As of today, only 73 per cent of the polling unit-level results have been uploaded. Undoubtedly, the delay in uploading the polling unit-level results cast doubts on the credibility of the results management process resulting in broken public trust in electoral technology.”
They added that the delayed upload of the results on the IReV is a flagrant disregard of INEC’s Regulations and Guidelines, and it failed. Other African countries successfully employ technology, Nigeria cannot be an exception especially when citizens supported INEC’s decision to deploy technology during the reform process.
“Notably, INEC’s IReV system did not work for the presidential election as expected. Incremental reforms have failed to inspire confidence in the electoral commission and the electoral process.
“Inconsistent presidential state results for Imo and Rivers make abundantly clear drastic steps are now needed and INEC must be fundamentally reformed.
“INEC must have authority over its state structures and have ultimate responsibility for the conduct of elections.
“These polling units were distributed across Adamawa, Taraba, Jigawa, Katsina, Anambra, Imo, Cross River and Delta states. INEC’s inability to conduct elections in those polling units denied voters the opportunity to exercise their right to vote.
“The creation of additional polling units was a positive and long-needed step by INEC. However, the implementation failed to address overcrowding. As a result, there were polling units with fewer than 10 registered voters and others with over 10,000.
“Some voters who were migrated to new polling units experienced difficulties locating their respective polling units.”, the Yiaga Africa said.
Yiaga Africa condemned cases of violence and disruption of the voting and results collation process by thugs and hoodlums, especially the violence targeted at National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) members and INEC staff, saying, “these cases of violence undermine Nigeria’s electoral reform project.
“In the respective geo-political zones, only 46 per cent of polling units in the north-central zone, 46 per cent of polling units in the north-east zone, 44 per cent of polling units in the north-west, and 63 per cent of polling units in the south-west zone had commenced accreditation and voting.
“There were even more pronounced delays in the south-east and south-south zones, where only 11 per cent of polling units in the south-east zone and 32 per cent of polling units in the south-south zone had commenced.
“As anticipated in Yiaga Africa’s pre-election report, voters encountered difficulties with locating polling units assigned to them by INEC following the migration of voters to polling units. Some voters didn’t receive the SMS notification sent by INEC which created confusion in some polling units,” Yiaga Africa said in conclusion.