Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, the governor of Rivers State, has stated that Nigerians should commend INEC (the Independent National Electoral Commission) for successfully carrying out the 2023 general election with less violence and fatalities reported nationwide.
Governor Wike recounted how far back INEC elections had been marked by violence, with preventable fatalities occurring amid politicians’ determination to get their way. This had been made possible by the previous voting method.
The statement was made by Governor Wike on Sunday at the swearing-in ceremonies for the chairs and members of the Rivers State Primary Healthcare Management Board and the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RSIEC) at Government House in Port Harcourt.
The governor remarked that even though INEC’s use of the Bi-Modal Voters Accreditation Machine System (BIVAS) in the general election of 2023 did not operate at its best, a great deal of success was still realized because its usage alone stopped security agencies’ attempts to incite violence.
“That is why I tell people that if for nothing, Nigerians should commend INEC that they reduced the level of violence, the level of death because without this BIVAS, before we were fighting with security agencies, they were carrying electoral materials, hijack electoral officials, but now it is difficult.” – he said.
According to Governor Wike, no election is flawless, but added that it is always preferable if voters see that it has improved since the last one in order for them to have faith in the system.
“So, no matter the inadequacies, you’ll see that there was an improvement in terms of reduction of violence which is key, because in our electoral process it has always been killing, hijacking of materials, and using of security wrongly.” – he noted
Governor Wike emphasized that Nigerians have moved on after accepting the election results and what INEC was able to do.
When someone is captured and found guilty of an electoral offense, the governor said it is an alarming occurrence that they never seem to be disciplined or punished in a way that would serve as a deterrence to others.
However, he voiced the hope that the federal government would give INEC more resources so that it could perform better in the forthcoming elections.
When the local government election date is set for next year, Governor Wike asked the RSIEC chairman and his team to use their wealth of expertise to guarantee a smooth transition.
Given the extensive time they have to prepare for the election, he asked them to work together to carry out their mandate.