‘Soothe campaign frictions, limit vote buying’ — Crisis Group advises Nigeria on credible 2023 polls

The International Crisis Group says Nigeria can achieve credible elections in 2023 if it implements four measures proffered by the group.

In an article published on its website on Friday, the organization said the forthcoming general election is one of “high stakes”.

The Brussels-based conflict prevention and peacebuilding group said areas that all stakeholders in the country need to address include security, campaign frictions, clean-up of the voters’ register, and limiting vote buying.

“The first priority is to soothe campaign frictions, which have been the main driver of violence. To this end, parties, candidates and their supporters need to tone down the incendiary rhetoric, including online, that has characterized the campaign thus far,” the organization said.

“Social media companies must also bear some responsibility – to block or remove incendiary messages, which come from various political camps and are extremely dangerous.

“A second priority is for the electoral commission to firm up arrangements for delivering credible elections. It should make sure the voter register is clean, in order to avoid disputes that may arise, particularly from underage voting.

“Thirdly, to limit vote buying, Nigeria’s anti-corruption agencies (the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and Independent Corrupt Practices Commission), along with the Department of State Security, should intensify surveillance of politicians and banks, to look out for large transfers of cash around the elections.

“Finally, the federal and state governments should enhance public safety by stepping up security operations in areas where armed groups are active, especially the north-west and south-east. They should strengthen arrangements to secure electoral commission offices and election-related materials countrywide.”

The Crisis Group said anyone found culpable regarding election-related violence should be prosecuted “without delay”.

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