NIGERIA: Caritas Deploys 6000 Observers, Sets Parallel Tallying Center for Polls

By Arnold Neliba

ABUJA, FEBRUARY 24, 2023 (CISA)- Caritas Nigeria, also known as the Catholic Caritas Foundation of Nigeria (CCFN), the official relief and development arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), has deployed 6,000 election observers to oversee elections in 36 states, the highest number by any single observer mission in Nigeria’s February 25 General Elections.

As a commitment to ensure free, fair and credible polls, it has also constituted a situation room and developed a Mobile Election Observation App to be used in implementing the Parallel Voter Tabulation (PVT) system to assist in the authentication of the accuracy of results.

“For the 2023 general elections, the Church has put measures and structures in place to ensure free, fair and credible elections. The deployment of expertly trained Election Observers and the establishment of the Situation Room for the collation, and analysis of reports and data are significant steps in that direction,” reads a February 24 statement signed by Fr Uchechukwu Obodoechina, the Executive Secretary of Caritas Nigeria.

Fr Obodoechina disclosed that the app is also designed to track, report, and analyze on-the-spot incidents around the polling and collation centres.

“This would be used by all the deployed observers in tracking and reporting the relevant activities during the election across the 57 dioceses in Nigeria. For this feat, she is grateful to her development partners, especially CAFOD and CRS,” he states.

These initiatives, he says, will not only support and strengthen the electoral process but also promote civic engagement and citizen ownership of the political process.

“The Catholic Church has never waned. It has been at the forefront of promoting accountable and responsible leadership. Especially in strengthening democracy, good governance and the electoral processes, the Church has maintained an unassailable moral compass in her prophetic roles in applauding good practices and denouncing their opposites,” he adds.

Caritas Nigeria has noted that elections have always defined Nigeria as a country preparing for war and characterized by violence and destruction. Despite being a democratic country, “the Nigerian style of leadership is horrendous. It forgets quickly that sovereignty belongs to the people and that governments are established in trust to serve the common good of society.”

As Nigerians head to the Saturday elections, Caritas has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to remain neutral and impartial, further appealing to the government and security agencies to ensure free, fair and credible elections.