Why Nigeria must tackle fuel scarcity before poll — W’African group

From Okwe Obi, Abuja

The West African Democracy Solidarity Network (WADEMOS), has explained why the government of Nigeria must address the lingering fuel scarcity before the commencement of the general elections.

The group stated that petroleum scarcity might lead to a low turnout of voters as most of them would find it difficult to go to their polling units.

It equally urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to clarify on the constitutional requirements for a candidate to be declared winner in the presidential poll.

The organisation, a coalition of 30 civil society and other civic organisations in the ECOWAS region, included the Center for Democratic Development and YIAGA Africa.

Speaking to journalists in recently in Abuja, Director of Advocacy and Public Engagement, CDD-Ghana, Kojo Asante, said the mission recognised the importance of the 2023 poll given the strides that Nigeria had made in sustaining democracy over the last 24 years without interruptions.

He said the mission had met with an stakeholders like ECOWAS, INEC, Human Rights Commission, the National Peace Committee, the Inter-party Advisory Council (IPAC), and a segment of media and CSO representatives.

He said: “Observations have been made about multiple security concerns that could significantly threaten the smooth conduct of the elections.

“These include the strong undertone of religious and ethnic tensions taking center-stage in the political discourse and debate among political parties and candidates alike.

“Also, the fact of sustained insecurity across the country as a result of increased incidences of kidnapping, banditry, insurgency, separatist groups creates a high level of uncertainty among the population.

“Another issue of concern is around the deployment of materials and logistics ahead of the election.

“This fear is exacerbated by the current long-running incidence of fuel scarcity in the country.

“We strongly note the postponement of previous elections in Nigeria, partly due to logistical concerns.

“Government must also improve availability of fuel to mitigate the effect that the current shortages could have on the election.

“This has the tendency of increasing voter apathy and turnout particularly for voters who will travel long distances to their polling stations.

“Again, it has implication for the movement of security personnel and patrol teams that will be deployed to provide security for the election.

“INEC should provide clarity on the electoral law which stipulates that the winner of the presidential race must attain majority of total votes and 25 per cent of votes in at least two-thirds of states in Nigeria, and the FCT.

“This is against the backdrop of multiple interpretations assigned to the law and expected competitiveness around the 2023 presidential race.

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