Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, has described the 2023 elections as one of the most transparent and credible ever held in the country.
The minister made this statement on Saturday in his hometown of Oro, which is close to Ilorin, Kwara, after casting his ballot in the governorship and state assembly elections. He was speaking with reporters at the time.
The minister cast his ballot at Polling Unit 006 in Oro Ward 2 in the Irepodun Local Government Area of Kwara at around 9.45 a.m., according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
The minister backed up his claim by claiming that the introduction of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) had revolutionised the way multiple accreditations, voting, and rigging were addressed.
“With what I have observed both in the February 25 and today’s elections, there has been a remarkable improvement in the performance of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
“Without any doubt, the introduction of BVAS has been a game changer in the sense that with BVAS, you are able to get the actual number of people who are accredited.
“Also with BVAS, it is now not possible for you to vote twice because your biometric and facial are captured.
“That explained why though INEC said there were 84 million voters in Nigeria, the last election showed that only about 24 million people cast their votes,’’ he said.
The minister said, in spite of the obvious improvements in the electoral process, he was worried about the red herring that trailed the outcomes of the Feb. 25 Presidential and National Assemblies elections.
He said most of the issues being raised about the credibility of INEC in conducting the polls were distractive.
According to the minister, the electoral law does not recognises electronic voting while the decision of a federal high court in Abuja gives INEC the power to determine the manner it collates and transmits election results.
Mohammed said he was happy that some of the aggrieved parties in the concluded elections had approached the court to ventilate their grievances.
He, however, berated the activities of some non-state actors making analysis and propositions which he said were incendiary and injurious to the harmonious and peaceful co-existence of Nigeria.
The minister said the activities of some Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) had also been very unhelpful because many of them came out to unjustifiably discredit INEC and set one ethnic and religion against the other
He said the media should also be circumspect of what they report on the elections and must show professionalism in discharge of their duties.
“What we noticed is that some media houses had taken position for one candidate and this makes rubbish of most of the analysis we see on their platforms,’’ he said.
The minister said the regulators of the media, particularly the broadcast media were doing their best by issuing warnings and fines where applicable.
He said many of the broadcast stations that were fined had refused to comply and pay up but dared the regulator.
He said the intention of the broadcast stations was to provoke the regulator to shut down their stations and by so doing labeling the government of stifling press freedom.
The minister assured that the regulators would not rest on their oars in the discharge of their constitutional duty of ensuring that the right things were done in the media industry. (NAN)