Ahead of the February 25th general elections in the country, Commonwealth observers have stormed the country and immediately paid the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) a visit for a crucial meeting.
Leader of the Mission and former President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, during the meeting with Yakubu, along with some National Commissioners in Abuja, said Nigeria is a very important country for the Commonwealth and they are hopeful the elections will be peaceful, credible and all-inclusive.
The commonwealth observers stormed Nigeria to observe and monitor the presidential election holding on Saturday, February 25th in the 36 states of the federation. The body has been covering and observing Nigeria’s election since 1999.
Stating the purpose of the visit, the former South Africa President said the meeting would afford the delegation an opportunity to hear from the electoral umpire, especially on preparations thus far.
According to him, the mission will write a report based on their observations and possibly make recommendations as well. Mbeki added that the success of the polls depend on the activities of INEC. He, therefore, stressed the need for INEC to live up to the expectations of Nigerians and the international community in its conduct of the February 25 and March 11 general elections.
On his part, Yakubu stressed the importance that INEC attaches to the observations of the Commonwealth Observer Mission in the past. He explained that some of the recommendations in the past have led to improvements, including the deployment of technologies by the Commission.
Earlier, the Commonwealth of Nations had announced its impartiality ahead of the polls after deploying a monitoring team of 16 high-calibre officers from various member nations, including politicians, diplomats, and experts in law, human rights, gender equality, and election administration.
The team is set to provide an independent assessment of the electoral process, and its findings will be communicated through a preliminary statement on February 27.
Mbeki, while addressing newsmen in a press conference, described the election as Africa’s largest democratic exercise, adding that the outcome will be significant not only for Nigeria, but also for the entire continent. He urged all stakeholders to uphold their commitment to ensuring a peaceful and inclusive election.
“Our mandate is to observe and assess the pre-election period, activities on polling day and the post-election period. Throughout, we will consider all factors relating to the credibility of the electoral process. We will assess whether the elections are conducted according to the standards for democratic elections to which Nigeria has committed itself,” Mbeki said.
“As we undertake this assessment and conduct our duties, we will be objective, independent, and impartial.” An estimated 93.4 million registered voters will have the right to cast ballots for presidential and National Assembly candidates in 176,846 polling units across Nigeria.
Following the elections, Mbeki said the group will submit its recommendations in a report to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland KC.
“She will forward the report to the Government of Nigeria, the country’s Independent National Electoral Commission, leadership of political parties taking part in the elections and all Commonwealth governments. The report will be made public afterwards,” he added.