Pat Utomi, a chieftain of the Labour Party (LP), says that civil society organisations (CSOs) must be vigilant and keep an eye on the activities of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to have credible, free and fair elections in 2023.
The political economy professor said political parties in Nigeria are in the habit of using different tricks to outsmart one another at the polls.
The LP chieftain said in reaction to the allegation by the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) that INEC included some foreigners in the national voter register.
“This is not about being satisfied or not satisfied. It is a matter of us working together to ensure that that happens. If you look away, something can happen. You blink, something can go wrong. So, it is calling on us, citizens, INEC, and everybody, to keep their eyes on the ball,” he said.“This is not about being satisfied or not satisfied. It is a matter of us working together to ensure that that happens. If you look away, something can happen. You blink, something can go wrong. So, it is calling on us, citizens, INEC, and everybody, to keep their eyes on the ball,” he said.
“Our tradition of political parties and politics has been based on who can most outplay the other in the unsavoury. So, we cannot take it for granted that they are asking all kinds of things.
“Vigilance is the only thing that can save us all. INEC needs to be strong and vigilant. The citizens need to be vigilant; they need to scream anytime they suspect anything is going wrong, and that is how everybody can get within those boundaries that enable us to have that feeling of a fair election we will like to see.
“That’s why civil society is important. Everywhere in the world, civil society groups hold the feet of institutions to fire. They ensure they do what’s right for the common men. So, we should have civil society organisations that are constantly on the neck of INEC in saying to them you people have not done this yet.
“They should be able to develop a basic checklist that citizens can all have that they will say on this checklist ‘on this day, INEC has not done this, why?’ Then, there is a big problem, outcry, and there is pressure to do this or that, and that is the way society really evolves. Civil society is doing remarkably well compared to how it has been in the past. But we still need a strong civil society to be able to get our institutions on the right.”
Though, INEC has debunked the rumour that it added foreigners to the voter register and was working on the clean-up of the register.
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