This preliminary statement is made by Kogi NGO Network (KONGONET) to Kogi’s 12th December, 2020 local government elections held across the 21 Local Government Areas and 239 wards of the State.
Kogi NGOs Network (KONGONET) is a coalition of Civil Society Networks Championing the promotion of participatory democracy, good governance and network coordination in Kogi State through advocacy and policy influencing for the well-being of Kogites.
In the lead up to the council’s election, the political environment in Kogi State was largely peaceful with pockets of isolated internal democracy challenges associated with major political parties in the state. There have been reports of violence leading to the arrest of some traditional leaders in the build up to the council’s election. There exist concerns on how these incidents and the overall state of affairs among the political parties may affect the conduct of the council’s election (Pre-Election Report by INGRA, 10th December, 2020).
KONGONET having closely followed the preparations of SIEC for the council’s election is fairly satisfied that the Commission has reiterated its commitment to ensure free, fair, credible and peaceful election by virtue of stakeholders engagement build up to the election.
The representative of the Hon. Commissioner of Police Kogi State granted an interview while observing the delivery of electoral materials at the premises of SIEC head office Lokoja, he assured that the Nigerian Police Force will ensure sufficient deployment of security personnel across polling units for the election and he assured of optimal security for all stakeholders involved in the election, though specific figures of deployment were not mentioned.
*Logistics and Opening of Polls*
Reports from our network of observers across the 21 LGAs in the State indicates that majority of polling units across the state as at 12 noon had not started the process of voting with SIEC officials and party agents not visible. Late arrivals of officials and materials were prevalent across many LGAs of the state. A lot of voters complained about the late arrivals of officials and this could have accounted for the low turnout and observed voter apathy. Over all, adequate numbers of security men were sighted at the polling points across the state.
*Political Party Agents*
The non –availability of political party agents across most polling units visited calls for a concern for our nascent democracy, for most polling units visited it appears as if there is no plan at all for elections to take place.
*Conduct of Security Officials*
KONGONET observed the presence of security officials across the polling units visited, however major roads/intersections across the State were not block to restrict movement as promised by the SIEC. The conduct of security operatives across the polling points visited were courteous and professional, we commend the Nigerian Police Force and other security agencies for prompt report to duty post across the state for the election.
As election enters the critical stage of vote collation and announcement, KONGONET urges all stakeholders to continue to conduct themselves peacefully to ensure that the conducive atmosphere recorded so far is sustained. We further call on the security operatives to be vigilant in mitigating incidences of post electoral violence which normally characterizes the announcement of results. We call on the Kogi people to protect and defend their democracy and respect the rights of fellow citizens to participate peacefully in political process. Meaningful democratic progress can only be achieved if citizens continue to discharge their civic duties and responsibilities.
6. Civil Society Groups in the state should enhance efforts to channel citizen priorities at the local government level to elected officials in an effort to promote more responsive and accountable governance across the state.
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Long live the people of Kogi State. God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Thank you.