From Paul Orude, Bauchi

The March 18, 2023 Governorship and State House of Assembly Elections in Bauchi State have been adjudged as free, fair, and credible by the forum of accredited Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) foreign and domestic observers, a Coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSO). This verdict was given at a press briefing in Bauchi on Tuesday.

Ambassador Charity A Erhire, the Coordinator of the forum, explained that the group is a collection of registered organisations accredited to observe the entire electoral process in Bauchi State, carefully selected by INEC to ensure a credible election. “Therefore, our observation mission provides opportunities for us to engage in constructive assessment, review and criticism,” she said.

Erhire commended the movement of ad hoc staff and materials during the election, stating that “the distribution of sensitive and non-sensitive material for the election was adequate, and materials and electoral officials arrived in most of the polling units in time.”

The forum also noted an effective and efficient provision of security operatives personnel during the exercise. “There was adequate security arrangement which culminated to smooth peaceful conduct of the election,” she said.

She noted that there was an impressive turnout of voters in most polling units, where “electorate came out en-mass to cast their votes and elect the candidates of their choice.” Accreditation and voting were carried out simultaneously and on time.

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Erhire also observed that the election was conducted in a peaceful and conducive atmosphere, with all political parties that participated in the election having their party agents in most of the polling units, including the APC, PDP, Labour Party, and NNPP.

“We wish to state categorically that the final results as was subsequently announced was free, fair, credible, transparent and adhered strictly to all international best practices,” she said.

“We state without fear of contradiction that the coalition and announcement of the result of the election as conducted by the National Independent Election Commission (NEC). Finally, we also witnessed the collation and announcement was devoid of any major violence or malpractice.”

The CSOs group commended the Bauchi State Electoral Management Body and the State Governor, Senator Bala Abdulkadir Muhammad, for providing a level playing ground for all parties to exercise their rights to choose the leader of their choice.

“Therefore winners must be magnanimous in victory while losers must accept defeat with dignity. The process was generally peaceful, transparent, free, fair, and credible.”

In conclusion, the forum appreciated the security officials, INEC staff, all the ad hoc staff, all the political parties, other stakeholders, traditional rulers, and religious leaders for their cooperation towards the success of the just-concluded Governorship and State Assembly election.