IPAC lists lessons from Liberian polls for INEC, police, Nigerians, others

The Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) has identified patriotism and national purpose by Liberian citizens and politicians as acts worthy of emulation by INEC, Nigerians and other African countries.

IPAC Chairman Sani Yabagi stated this on Friday in Abuja while relaying the experiences of the group’s team that observed the October 10 election in Liberia.

Mr Yabagi said that the IPAC election observer mission, led by him, arrived in Monrovia on October 7, to witness how elections were being conducted by other African countries, especially those in the sub-Saharan region.

“It was an opportunity to learn from the experiences of other countries with a view to improve our processes of conducting elections in Nigeria,’’ he said.

Mr Yabagi said that the election was peaceful without the kind of tension and violence often associated with politics and elections in most African and emerging democracies.

“The lesson that we learned is that patriotism and national purpose are important ideals to cultivate in citizens. That was responsible for the orderly manner that characterised the election.

“We didn’t see the sign of use of money. There was no violence, no intimidation by law enforcement agencies. The elections were orderly.

“There was an impressive turnout which was driven by a sense of patriotism and commitment to the national purpose.

“We observed that the citizens were very much enlightened on keeping peace and the need to vote based on issues.

“Enlightenment wasn’t just about voter certification; there was awareness on environment, rule of law. This is worthy of emulation by us,” he said.

Mr Yabagi added that few political parties’ rallies attended by the delegation were also peaceful.

“Party men and women were excited with their party affairs; rallies were without thugs.

“On election day, polling stations in Monrovia were peaceful. There was a mass turnout of voters. As at 8.30 a.m., election officials and party agents were all present.

“All polling units visited were indoors, mostly in school compounds.

“All the party agents were well-seated, so were the electoral officers. The polling stations had one law enforcement each, but some had none.

“That goes to tell you how peaceful the election really was and no one tried to do anything funny to disrupt the process.

“Because of the large turnout and the slow manual accreditation process, most polling stations opened into the night,” Mr Yabagi said.

On the deployment of technology for conduct of elections, Mr Yabagi said that Nigeria was more technologically advanced, compared to Liberia

“Here, we use the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) to accredit voters, but there, they do it manually.

“The counting is done manually, the collation is done manually. The only thing done by technology is the biometrics that they had.

“The list of voters and their pictures were displayed on the walls of the areas where the polling units were located.

“Also, the pictures of each contestant and his or her name were on the ballot papers, unlike in Nigeria.

“While this looks good, considering the high number of contestants and ever-changing list of candidates due to court orders, this may not be an option for our country for now,” he said.

Mr Yabagi also commended active participation of women and youth in the elections.