Insecurity in parts of Nigeria, rancour between political parties, scarcity of fuel and new naira notes could mar the forthcoming polls, the International Crisis Group, ICG, has warned.
The global conflict prevention and peacebuilding body on Friday released a 26-page report titled “Mitigating Violence Around Nigeria’s 2023 Elections.”
The assessment observed that voting will soon commence amidst wider security challenges than was the case with previous polls.
It cited the activities of armed groups including Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) in the North East, bandits in the North West, and Biafra agitators and criminal impostors in the South East.
The report said intense acrimony, especially among the major parties, has raised tensions across the country, with numerous incidents of violence.
ICG also observed that the election is further being challenged by the recent scarcity of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) and the redesigned naira notes.
The organisation said the scarcities could hamper election logistics, render many voters more vulnerable to vote-buying, and further escalate tension around the polls.
To mitigate risks and ensure credible polls, ICG urged security agencies to step up operations against armed groups and protect all Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, offices.
The report called on parties, candidates and supporters to tone down their inflammatory rhetoric and re-focus their campaigns on issues that matter to the electorate, particularly the economy and security.
It charged the federal government to urgently boost supplies of fuel and currency notes and ensure they are adequately available, well before the polls.
ICG tasked Nigeria’s foreign partners to sustain support for free and fair elections, including sanctioning those who incite attacks, through travel bans and other means.
“A peaceful election is crucial to the country’s cohesion and to its credibility in discouraging unconstitutional seizures of power elsewhere in Africa.
“A violent or disputed vote could aggravate Nigeria’s governance challenges and diminish its stature as a democratic leader on the continent,” the report added.