Elections: strengthening democracy in Nigeria our mission — EU observers

European Union Election Observation Mission

MR Barry Andrews, the Chief Observer, European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) says the group’s mission in Nigeria is to strengthen democracy.

Andrews said this on Saturday during the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly Elections in Nasarawa State.

“Our overall mission here is to try to strengthen democracy in Nigeria and to be a valuable partner for those who are dedicated to that idea.

“We have been deployed here since early January and we will continue our deployment here until April.

“Then we will produce a final report within three months after the end of the elections and that will contain all our conclusions and recommendations.

“So we will assess the elections based on criteria that are internationally acceptable and that are based on Nigeria’s commitment within its own legislation and also International conventions.

“Generally, the criteria we tested against are inclusivity, can everybody come and cast their ballots. On transparency, is how the votes are gathered collected, and tabulated?

“On credibility, which is the overall process that takes in the entire media landscape, the judicial landscape, the legislative landscape,
and that is why we deploy for such a long period of time,’’ Andrews said.

According to him, they have deployed more than 60 people across, and it is important that monitors both International and domestic monitors are circulating around the Polling Units.

He said this would encourage the methodology that supposed to be adhered to be followed and it had the effect of reducing attempts at fraud and increasing the transparency of the overall process.

“So we are part of a very big exercise that has a value. So what I have seen in the very small couple of polling units is that the Polling Units opened on time and that is great.

“That the technology has been working and its been peaceful.

“But I must really emphasise that it would be impossible to draw any conclusions of any value from those small samples of four polling units that we have visited.

“Though I think there is a low turnout in the governorship compared to the presidential. They are simply my own personal observations.

“We are working very hard over the next 48 hours to write a preliminary statement. I hope you won’t be disappointed, it will be honest and it will be robust.

“I think its important to emphasise that we do it the spirit of constructive partnership with the authorities here in Nigeria and on behalf of the people of Nigeria, most especially,’’ Andrews said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) also spoke to a domestic observer, Mr Emmanuel Emeka, an official of the Foundation for Sustainable Development and Inclusive Growth who said the election was peaceful.

He congratulated INEC personnel for commencing the process on time, but however, observed also that voter apathy was witnessed in all the Polling Units they monitored. (NAN)