In apparent compliance with the logic of “once beaten, twice shy”, the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room (Situation Room) is heavily steeling itself for a round-the-clock observation of the Saturday, March 18th, 2023 Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections. The coalition of election transparency minded NGOs is deploying a whopping 2,340 election observers. That translates to at least three election observers per Local Government Area in every state of the federation, excluding the Federal Capital Territory. What is more, the above number does not include 131 Persons with Disabilities who are also part of the squad.
A preliminary statement on the Pre-Election Environment ahead of the poll by Situation Room mandarins said they will be relying on information from its partners and networks deploying election observers too. On the Election Day, however, the Election Situation Room will be the main hub for receiving data and reports from the field. According to Ene Obi, Asmau Joda and James Ugochukwu who signed the statement in their capacities as co-conveners, it is the data and reports which the coalition will analyze and disseminate subsequently. And the statement also said the Situation Room’s observation and analysis of the conduct of Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections will be guided by “the Credibility Threshold for the 2023 General Election, which was produced and shared with election stakeholders, including the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), ahead of the elections”
Also in their own words, “the Credibility Threshold document identified issues and factors that could cause the 2023 general election to fall below, remain within, or go beyond the standard established by previous elections. It also outlined expectations from stakeholders to mitigate issues that constitute key risks to the credibility of the general election. The Situation Room will further take into cognizance the contemporary electoral and security environment in assessing the polls”.
The rest of the statement contains bits that may become useful to others on the D-day:
Situation Room therefore notes the following:
Situation Room expects that INEC has taken lessons from the challenges experienced during the Presidential and National Assembly elections of 25th February 2023, and that the Commission has made adequate arrangements to forestall the recurrence of the gaps observed during the elections. Situation Room also expects that the glitches that led to the malfunctioning of the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV) have been resolved, and that the issues that occasioned the inability of the Commission to conduct elections in some polling units and late opening of polls in others have been addressed. In particular, the Situation Room calls on INEC to address the shortages in the number of ad hoc staff available for the elections, make adequate transportation arrangements, conduct additional training for the ad hoc staff, and promptly reconfigure and deploy the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and other materials required for the elections. Most importantly, ensure that it communicates in a timely manner to the public on any challenges or changes made to the electoral process.
Ahead of the elections, the security situation across the country appears tense, with reports of violence, kidnap and assassination in several States including Lagos, Rivers, Imo, Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu and Kano. As such, Situation Room reminds the Nigeria Police and other security agencies that they have a primary responsibility to guarantee the safety and security of election officials as well as other election stakeholders, including voters, polling agents, election observers, the media and service providers. Security agencies should take adequate measures to forestall the recurrence of acts of voter suppression, disruption of voting, and outright violence experienced in some places during the Presidential and National Assembly elections.
Furthermore, the Situation Room calls on the Nigeria Police and other security agencies to ensure that they are non-partisan, professional and will avoid any actions capable of being interpreted as acting in support of any political interest.
CONDUCT OF POLITICAL PARTIES
Circulation of smear campaigns and desperations have intensified in this election particularly on social media. The Situation Room specifically calls on political parties to conduct themselves in a peaceful manner and to discourage violence by their supporters. Parties are reminded that there is a need to respect and abide by the Peace Accord signed by them. Situation Room will be tracking violent incidents across the States. Perpetrators and masterminds will be called out for investigations and punitive measures in line with Section 92 (5-8) of the Electoral Act 2022.
TO THE NIGERIAN CITIZENS
The Situation Room notes that the current situation in the country has not been particularly positive, especially as citizens face severe hardship owing to, among other things, fuel and Naira scarcity and the disappointment with the conduct of the Presidential and National Assembly elections. The Situation Room however urges citizens to recognize this March 18, elections as very key; the positions being contested will determine to a large extent, grassroots development. Citizens should continue to show patriotism and patience by coming out to cast their votes, and by conducting themselves in a peaceful manner.
And it is leaving its contact details just in case. Its Call/WhatsApp Numbers are 09032999919, 08021812999, 09095050505. While the E-mail is : email@example.com, the other social media platforms are ● Twitter/Instagram: @SituationRoomNg; ● Facebook: Situation Room Nigeria; ● Website: www.situationroom.org; Hashtag: #SR2023Elections
A self-portrait by Situation Room indicates it is made up of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) working in support of credible and transparent elections in Nigeria numbering more than seventy. It lists the Steering Committee to be made up of: Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), CLEEN Foundation, Action Aid Nigeria, Centre for Women and Adolescent Empowerment, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), African Centre for Entrepreneurship and Information Development (ACEIDEV), Justice Development and Peace Commission (JPDC) Nnewi, ASPILOS Foundation, Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC), Mac-Jim Foundation, Kimpact Development Initiative, Democratic Action Group (DAG), Women’s Rights to Education Programme, EDO CSOs, Young Innovators and Vocational Training Initiative (YVITI), New Initiative for Social Development (NISD). Other groups are Centre LSD, CISLAC, WARD-C, Proactive Gender Initiative (PGI), Enough is Enough Nigeria, WANGONET, JDPC, Yiaga Africa, Development Dynamics, Partners West Africa Nigeria (PWAN), Stakeholder Democracy Network, Human Rights Monitor, Reclaim Naija, CITAD, Conscience for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution (CHRCR,)Nigerian Women Trust Fund, The Albino Foundation, Emma Ezeazu Centre for Good Governance and Accountability (formerly Alliance for Credible Elections), Electoral Hub, etc