Insecurity, thuggery, and fake news on social media have been identified by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as major threats to the general elections in 2019.
Mahmoud Yakubu, the chairman of the commission, revealed the information at an event hosted by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) in Washington, D.C.
Regarding the worries prior to the poll, he said:
“Are there concerns about the 2023 general election? I will be the last to say there are no concerns. The first concern is the perennial issue of insecurity in different parts of the country, compounded by the traditional issues of thuggery during elections organized by some of the political actors
“I say it is a perennial issue because at the end of the day, it is nothing new. However, the dimension of the insecurity is a concern in the sense that in the past, it was localized or confined to a particular part of the country, the northeast. But now it is more widespread and we are keeping our eyes particularly on the northwest and the southeastern parts of the country.
“Elections are conducted by human beings. We worry about the security of our officials, voters and the materials to be deployed. Without them, we cannot conduct elections. We have spoken to the security agencies, they have assured us that the situation will improve before the elections. So, fingers crossed. Those who are supposed to secure the environment have assured us that they will secure the environment for us to conduct elections. Our responsibility is to conduct elections.
“The social media has been a force for good. The commission does not support censorship. We believe that the antidote to fake news is greater transparency and openness and we have been demonstrating greater transparency and openness.
“The social media plays a very important role in voter education and deepening democracy but it also has the potential of skewing the narrative with the wrong information that impugn the integrity of officials or seek to delegitimize the Commission and the process either before, during or after the elections. Publication of fake election results is a potential trigger for violence. What we have done is to continue to deepen our cooperation and relationship particularly with the organized social media,” he said.