Insecurity, rancour between political parties, coupled with scarcities of fuel and the redesigned national currency, could mar Nigeria’s forthcoming elections, the International Crisis Group (ICG) has warned.
In a 26-page report published on February 10, titled Mitigating Violence Around Nigeria’s 2023 Elections, the global conflict prevention and peacebuilding group said the elections are taking place amidst wider security challenges.
ICG referred to the activities of various armed groups – Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) in the North East, bandits in the North West and Biafra secessionist agitators and criminal impostors in the South East.
The report observes that intense acrimony, especially among the three major parties, has raised tensions across the country, with numerous incidents of violence that could escalate further during and after the polls.
Crisis Group also observes that the elections are further being challenged by the recent scarcities of motor vehicle fuel and the redesigned naira notes.
The organisation warns that the situation could hamper election logistics. Moreover, hardship caused by these scarcities could render many voters more vulnerable to vote-buying.
To mitigate risks and ensure credible polls, ICG calls on federal security agencies to step up operations against non-state actors and to ensure adequate protection for offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The body calls on parties, candidates and supporters to tone down their inflammatory rhetoric and re-focus their campaigns on the real issues that matter to the electorate, particularly the economy and security.
The report also calls on the federal government to urgently boost supplies of fuel and currency notes and ensure they are adequately available, well before the elections.
The Group urges Nigeria’s foreign partners to sustain support for free and fair elections, including sanctioning those who incite attacks, through travel bans and other means.
The further report highlighted another major threat to the elections as violence arising from inter-party tensions.
“Some of the factors underlying the friction are not new. Since Nigeria’s return to civilian rule in 1999, many people have made huge amounts of money by winning elected office.
“Unsuccessful candidates sometimes take large financial losses. With the stakes extremely high, many rally supporters with the mindset of winning by all means.
“Several other factors are particularly troubling. First – perhaps more than in the past – all three main parties are bent on victory, albeit each for its own reasons.
“The sense of desperation pervading the camps of all three front runners is a source of rising tension among them and concern about how the losing parties’ candidates and supporters may react to defeat.
“The governing APC, a coalition that wrested power from the PDP in 2015, wants to retain the presidency for several reasons, including the fear that if it loses control of the top office, the party could disintegrate.
“The PDP, out in the cold for the past eight years, sees the end of President Buhari’s faltering administration as its best opportunity to recapture the centre. Losing a third presidential election in a row could also have deleterious effects on its future.”
Crisis Group says a peaceful election is crucial to the country’s cohesion and to its credibility in discouraging unconstitutional seizures of power elsewhere in Africa.
“A violent or disputed vote could aggravate Nigeria’s governance challenges and diminish its status as a democratic leader on the continent,” the report adds.
Culled from TheGuardian