A conglomerate community of social justice crusaders, human rights activists, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Community Based Organizations (CBOs), Faith Based Organizations (FBOs), people, establishments and teams in Akwa Ibom State, have unanimously submitted its observations on the pre and post-election actions within the State.
The group, often known as the Akwa Ibom Human Rights Community (AKHRC), in a statement signed by its coordinator, Clifford Thomas (Esq.), and its Secretary, Enobong Ekot (Esq.), held that they immediately and not directly noticed the elections, the voter schooling processes for residents, and returned with their observations and experiences.
They maintained that “there is a consensus by the civil societies that in Akwa Ibom State in particular, popular citizens’ participation, which of course, is the essence of democracy, has improved tremendously”, including that it was “the first time in the State, people actually voted, got their votes counted, followed the announced results from the polling units to the ward collation centers, and continued thereon to the local government”.
They defined that the line-up of occasions which preceded the election made it doable for aspirants to work together one-on-one with the electorates, and that the conduct and outcomes of the train was devoid of what was obtainable previously.
“This string of events which elevated the voter to a position of importance shocked the people. Wise politicians approached the voters directly, and had personal interface with them; to persuade the voters to vote for them. For the first time in Akwa Ibom State, there was a direct connect between the politicians and the voters”.
“Before this very set of elections, there was this feeling of fatalism by voters. They never believed that their votes would ever count. Actually, it never used to count. What the politicians through INEC felt like announcing was usually the accepted results; even when reports and evidence showed that such announced results were not credible, transparent and acceptable. Such results were usually forced down the throats of the electorates. That was the narrative”.
The Civil group additionally acknowledged the function performed by the State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Barr. Mike Igini, in meting out equity and justice within the normal conduct of the elections.
“The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) deployed a civil society no-nonsense Lawyer called, Mike Igini, to Akwa Ibom State as the Resident Electoral Commissioner. He is an Activist and practical pro-democracy exponent. And that is when the revolution started. And Akwa Ibom is no longer the same again.”
“One of the primary issues he did was to review his new terrain, did his SWOT on it, and produced a grasp plan which included taking some incisive actions that eliminated the surplus props that made the electoral processes within the state clumsy, unbelievable and ridiculous.
Certain polling models which had been used prior to now to inflate election ends in the state had been found, and uncovered.
He decisively ensured that the previous grew to become historical past, by placing the voters, not the politician, first, in INEC’s agenda.
He knowledgeable the electorates of this case, made them to take possession of the brand new technique of electoral transparency, with a one-man-one vote regime”.
They expressed that following the repositioning accomplished by the State REC, the residents had been ready to hold out their civic duties which they did in opposition to allegations and threats from anti-demotrats.
“When the elections finally came, INEC in Akwa Ibom State was fully prepared. The people were also prepared… Allegations to weaken the REC and the umpire were brandished. The heat level was increased. The expectations of anti-democratic forces swelled up. But INEC under the REC, Igini, insisted that the people must vote, and that their votes must be respected. The parties locked horns, but the will of the people prevailed”.
Speaking on the sequence of reactions which trailed the elections, the civil group famous that such was due to the orderly conduct of the elections.
“Barrister Mike Igini has become a household name in Akwa Ibom today, nay, Nigeria, because when the people voted, those votes counted, and the results, even though presently challenged at the tribunal, created an atmosphere of satisfaction in the people”.
They concluded that the elections which held within the state had been credible, including that Igini ought to be congratulated for his frantic efforts and made to be a kind of on the nationwide affairs of the electoral fee.
“Akwa Ibom Human Rights Community, AKHRC, having watched with keen interest, the events building up to the elections, the elections proper, and the various post-election events, has arrived at the safe conclusion that despite whatever perceived or observed mistakes may have occurred in the elections, the elections were credible. Barrister Mike Igini must be congratulated for this star performance, and encouraged to do more. This network feels strongly, that Mr. Igini, with his antecedents, should be allowed to handle INEC at the national level, to conduct free, fair, credible and transparently acceptable elections in Nigeria”.
“As Nigeria continues to experience steady and uninterrupted growth in our democracy, those who have proven themselves in the field as fearless, resilient and determined to make democracy work, must be encouraged to help strengthen the electoral process”, they posited.