A former Resident Electoral Commissioner in Akwa Ibom State, Mike Igini, has applauded President Muhammadu Buhari’s Thursday address to the nation, but said the president still has some more actions to take in order to ensure a free, fair, and credible elections.
Nigerians will go to the polls on 25 February to elect Mr Buhari’s successor and new National Assembly members.
Afterwards, there will be another election on 11 March to elect state governors and state lawmakers across the country.
Mr Buhari, in his address, said his administration’s currency designed policy has so far reduced the influence of money on the nation’s politics.
“This is a positive departure from the past and represents a bold legacy step by this administration, towards laying a strong foundation for free and fair elections.
“I urge every citizen, therefore, to go out to vote for their candidates of choice without fear, because security shall be provided and your vote shall count,” Mr Buhari said.
Mr Igini said the president was “statesmanly” and did not bring politics into the things he said.
The former resident electoral commissioner spoke on Thursday when he appeared as a guest on the Arise TV Morning Show, which was monitored by PREMIUM TIMES.
Mr Igini said besides showing empathy towards the suffering Nigerians were going through because of the naira scarcity and his assurance that the path taken would lead the country to a “promising tomorrow”, the president renewed the “battle cry with the respect to the need for credible elections”.
What Buhari must do
He said Mr Buhari must, however, do at least three things to ensure the forthcoming elections are credible.
“The president has to do the following: Have regular briefings from the head of security agencies of the country and on all the areas that have been mapped out as areas for potential violence (for the 2023 elections).
“What are the specific plans? They must show to you on paper, the specific action plans to be taken.
“With respect to vote-buying, which has assumed the level of epidemic, Mr President, it is now left for you, let the IG (inspector general of police) and all security agencies give to you the charges to those (security officials) who are going to be at the polling units.
“On thuggery, they also have to let the president know because all flashpoints are clearly mapped out,” Mr Igini said.
Mr Igini advised candidates to set up their situation rooms to prepare for the elections.
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“This is the time for candidates to set up their situation room. This is because at the polling units, the system now is such that candidates, political parties are even going to get the entire collation much earlier than the INEC itself because the moment the duplicate has been given to your party agent, he will snap it and will send it to your situation room.
“This election is going to be the most monitored, it is going to be the most policed by the Nigerian people,” he said.
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