The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has invited interested international organisations across the world to come and observe Nigeria 2023 general elections.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu made the call when he received the delegation of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) Pre-Election Fact Finding Mission to Nigeria.
The group was led by Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, former Chairman, Electoral Commission of Ghana, at the commission headquarters on Monday in Abuja.
The INEC chairman disclosed that it was a demonstration of the commission’s openness and ritual to receive international observers.
“Election Observation is an important part of ensuring transparency and credibility in elections. We have always benefited from the insight of election observation missions.
“For instance, you are here on fact-finding, we will hear from you what you have found so far, which will help us in concluding our preparations for the election.
“ And I look forward also to receive any report at the end of the process in February and March, so that we can learn even more from the inside.’’
The chairman assured the ECOWAS that Nigeria 2023 general elections would be technology driven.
“Let me restate the commitment of INEC Nigeria free, fair and credible elections driven by technology.
“The 2023 general election in Nigeria will be driven by technology not only as a matter of legal requirement, but also as a matter of course, for us in the commission.
“So, I want to assure the ECOWAS team that we are committed to delivering a credible election in the next four months and a few days, which will be Nigeria’s seventh successive elections, since the restoration of democracy in 1999,’’ Yakubu said.
Yakubu, who commended ECOWAS for its commitment to credible elections in Nigeria, said it was the first to arrive Nigeria for the election.
“ECOWAS has demonstrated that seriousness and commitment to ensuring that we get right electorally in this region in the next few weeks, I’m sure many more organizations will come.
Yakubu also stressed the need to restore democratic government in all West African countries including Mali, Burkina and Guinea.
Speaking on behalf of the delegation, Dr Remi Ajibewa, said that they were in Nigeria for fact finding ahead of the country’s 2023 general elections in line with ECOWAS Supplementary Protocol 2021 to observe elections in Nigeria.
Ajibewa said that Article 11, 12 and 13 of the protocol mandated the commission to deploy electoral fact-finding mission to every member states of ECOWAS that were about to conduct election, especially presidential election.
“And this is why we are here and in the cause of our being here in Nigeria there will be visits first to ECOWAS Commission, which we have done that is to brief the head of mission.
“Then, to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where we have been this morning, then the Inspector-General of Police, then some civil societies and INEC.
“Basically, the reason why we normally do that is that we believe INEC is our fiend, so, that’s some of the things that we’ve had, we also put it across to them, areas where discussion.
“So in the course we’ll also be visiting the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria. We will be visiting the resident electoral commissioners. We will be visiting the security agencies. We will be visiting the traditional and religious leaders.
“We will be visiting the civil society, having audience our discussion with them, all to know the preparedness of these stakeholders we are meeting.
“But in particular, we will not miss out the political parties, given the fact that they constitute the sort of important role.
“Then in the course we’ll be meeting the media , speaking with the Bar Association, the courts as well because of their role,’’ he said
Ajibewa, the Director of Political Affairs, ECOWAS Commission, said that the delegation visit to Nigeria was not the first time as that was done during other previous elections in the country, including the 2019 general elections.
He said that ECOWAS look forward to successful and credible elections in West Africa countries especially Nigeria in 2023 given the leadership role the country played in the sub region.
“We all know the importance Nigeria holds, given the fact that, as they used to say, if Nigeria sneezes, the whole West Africa catches cold and we don’t pray that will be the result.
“So we are here to listen to you, to see the area of challenges that we might also report.’’ (NAN)