Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, a former INEC Director, Voter Education and Publicity, has stated that Nigerians have little or no trust in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Some Nigerians had criticised the conduct of the February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections as below the expectations of citizens and stakeholders at home and abroad.
“You could not envisage a situation with the tension of the country. With the uncertainty and all that has happened in the last 10, 12 day, I don’t think INEC could afford doing any wrong again,” Osaze-Uzzi, said on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Thursday, March 9.
“Things went awry last time around and confidence, I think, is at an all-time low. Some people may begin to get over it, but I think the vast majority of Nigerians are satisfied.”
“Trust is a fragile thing,” Osaze-Uzzi stated.
“INEC conducted elections in 1998, 1999 – people just wanted to get rid of the military, it wasn’t perfect but it was acceptable. In 2003, people were not happy. 2007 was the epoch of it all. Trust was next to zero,” he said.
Osaze-Uzzi however added that with the changes in personnel and reforms brought into place, trust began to build up, leading up to 2022.
“By the time you brought more technology, by the time you conducted Osun, Edo, Ekiti, Ondo, and then they saw the way technology improved the process, Osun was picture-perfect. People [said], ‘They could really do this.’
“Expectations were now high and people were ready to forgive the sins of the past. I think at that time, INEC became one of the most trusted public institutions,” he said.
“There was a call to be made: Do you delay things and ensure you follow the process to the letter, even if it means delaying this thing for a week or whatever period of time?
“Or do you save time, save tension, just go ahead and bypass some of the processes laid down in your regulations? I think it took the former. This time around, I think process triumphed over timing,” he said.