Speak Out Africa Initiative (SOAI), an NGO, says it is taking steps to safeguard participation of Nigerians in elections and fight voter apathy.
Executive Director of SOAI, Kenneth Eze, said this on Thursday in Abuja, while unveiling the “Nigeria VoteBeat survey.
According to Eze, the survey is in line with SOAI’s commitment to ensuring the credibility and sanctity of the 2023 general elections, including gubernatorial and state Houses Assembly elections.
“The SOAI has launched a survey after the Presidential and National Assembly elections, and the intricacies that followed it, including ongoing court cases
“The survey is to gauge the “votebeat” of Nigerians with regards to their voting behavior and likely participation for the gubernatorial and state assembly elections.
“This is expedient because the way and manner an election is conducted, and the events which follow, have huge direct impact on voters’ participation,” he said.
He said that the group was committed to safeguarding the participation of voters in all elections.
“To us, whatever that will create voter apathy is an enemy to democracy and should be confronted headlong.
“The Presidential and National Assembly elections conducted on Feb. 25 by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) are widely adjudged as controversial by available reports from both local and international observers.
“Unfortunately, this was supposed to be the freest, fairest, most credible and most acceptable election in the history of our dear country, considering the huge investment that it attracted.
“Irregularities, logistics lapses, inadequate trained Ad-hoc staff as well as perceived breach of trust on the part of INEC is at the center of discussion,” he said.
The executive director said that the overall effect of the development was likely to have serious impact on the voter participation in future elections.
“The CSOs have labored so much to make the Nigerian voter repose confidence on INEC.
“This must not be eroded, hence, we launched the “Nigeria VoteBeat Survey (NVS)” to gauge, identify, diagnose and address possible electoral deficits.
“For emphasis, the two key parameters and drivers for this survey will be process and participation, and would never have anything to do with election outcome.
“This is because for any election, a winner will merge but the process by which the outcome is determined is more key to the survival of any democracy.
“Incidentally, process and participation are interwoven and form the basis for election democracy,” he said.
Eze said that the survey was for citizens to appraise INEC’s conduct, and adherence to its own guidelines.
He called on INEC to rebuild its integrity and trust, and close all the lapses identified in the last presidential and national assembly elections. (NAN)