EU Election Observer Team Partners with NAN

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Ima Niboro

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The News Agency of Nigeria and the European Union Election Observer Mission are to collaborate in monitoring the forthcoming February general elections

THE election observer team from the European Union has visited the News Agency of Nigeria as part of its agenda to assess the performance of the media in the forthcoming general elections in the country. Receiving the team in his office in Abuja, January 22, Ima Niboro, managing director of the News Agency of Nigeria, seized the opportunity to decry the way some politicians had taken politics as do-or-die business. Niboro told the European Union Election Observation Mission to Nigeria that it was unfortunate that some politicians still saw elections as a do-or-die affair, stressing that such should not be the case.

The days are gone when elections were manipulated in the country, he said, adding that the present administration had ensured that the electoral processes were more transparent and engaging. “Every democracy must define itself and find a way to grow internally, based on its own realities,” he said.

Recalling his days as media adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan, the managing director said the president had always worked towards giving Nigeria free and fair polls even if it would affect him adversely. “The President has always hammered on one point and that is that even if he loses an election, let it go down in history that he is the first sitting president that lost an election. That is the kind of democracy we have now.  Thank God we have, for the first time, an electoral umpire that is above board and was appointed based on his profile. It is embarrassing when you go out of the country and we are portrayed as people who cannot govern themselves.”

According to him, every democracy must define itself and find a way to grow internally, adding that at the signing of the Abuja Accord by all the presidential candidates in the upcoming election, Jonathan decried the winner-takes-all syndrome of politics in Nigeria. Jonathan believes the syndrome was a major problem in Nigeria’s politics.

He cited instances of two political parties where one won election with 51 per cent of votes cast and the other scored 49 per cent, but the winner took everything, adding that in such situation, the loser won’t go home to sleep. He said the opposition, most times, after losing an election, will want to do everything to frustrate the winning party because in that instance, they had almost half of the total votes.

“He said: “The opposition will not go home to sleep. They will want to fight back and they will want to do things to remind you that, ‘look guys we are here’.”

However, Niboro said that such situation could be averted if an all-inclusive government could be formed after an election.

Niboro suggested that in order to change the situation, the country needed to evolve a model where the winner-takes-all syndrome in the political system was played down and advocated that percentage votes could be applied in forming government after elections. “If, for instance, a party knows that if it gets 20 per cent of the votes it can get 20 per cent of stake in my government, it won’t want to burn down public buildings.

“He won’t want to burn down government house or shut down the country because he still has a stake. But when the guy looks and says ‘for the next four years, I have no stake and possibly because these guys will entrench themselves after four years or even the next eight years’, he will kick,” he said.

According to Niboro, “Many of such people will only regroup and prefer to die. And these are the problems. That’s why I keep saying that our democracy must define itself. We have patterned our democracy after the US presidential system, which is a great system, but we must add our own home-grown additives to this process to reduce ‘this red-hot frictions’ that emerge from elections.”

Earlier, Eberhard Laue, leader of the delegation, said the EU EOM to Nigeria has Santiago Ayxela, a member of the EU from Spain, as its chief observer. Laue said that the advance team of the mission had been in the country since January 6, adding that the core team had arrived.

The EU core team will analyse the legal provisions, electoral administration, political freedoms and the dynamics and performance of the media.  The delegation was at NAN as part of its programme of partnering the media in Nigeria for the success of its assignment. “The media in general are part of our interest as it is a vehicle of information and NAN is important to us. We wish to work with you on how you disseminate information on the general election,” he said.

Part of the EU mandate was to support democratic processes, enhance public confidence in electoral processes, deter fraud and strengthen respect for human rights and the rule of law.

— Feb. 2, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT

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