From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has stated that the deployment of international election observation missions has become a means of enhancing public confidence and trust in Nigeria’s elections.

The commission also specified that it appreciates the support of international development partners in enhancing training and capacity building, production and dissemination of messages for voter education and sensitisation, but not in the procurement of sensitive materials.

INEC Chairman Mahmood Yakubu made the disclosure on Monday in Abuja in his goodwill message at the closure of Phase I and the launch of Phase II of the European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN).

“I wish to reassure you that the commission will work together with the consortium of partners to implement the support to the INEC component of the EU-SDGN II. We will also continue to create the enabling environment to facilitate the work of the partners for the successful implementation of the programme.

“The choice of the partners signifies a vote of confidence in their capacity to undertake actions and implement activities that are critical to promoting the institutionalisation of democratic norms in our country. We will work with the implementing partners for free, fair, credible and inclusive elections.

“I wish to reiterate here that the core costs of our electoral activities, including the acquisition of sensitive and non-sensitive materials for all elections, remain the sovereign responsibility of the Federal Government of Nigeria. “Nevertheless, the commission appreciates the support of international development partners to enhance training and capacity building of officials; stakeholder engagement for peaceful election; production and dissemination of messages for voter education and sensitisation; enhancing the active and meaningful participation of all segments of society in the electoral process with particular reference to women, youth, Persons with Disability (PWD) and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs); and, finally, election conflict mitigation, management and resolution.

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“Similarly, the commission will continue to welcome the deployment of international and domestic election observers in line with INEC guidelines. The commission considers the deployment of such election observation missions as a means of enhancing public confidence and trust in Nigeria’s elections.

“Their recommendations have been especially useful in reviewing our processes and the introduction of some of the progressive reforms in our electoral legal framework in line with global good practices. To this end, the Commission has already sent out letters to such international organisations such as the United Nations, European Union, Commonwealth, the African Union and ECOWAS inviting them to deploy observation missions for the 2023 General Election. Very soon, advertisements will be placed in national newspapers and the Commission’s website to invite applications from interested domestic organisations to observe the same election.

Speaking further, the commission’s boss said: “once again, I wish to express the Commission’s appreciation to the European Union and its member States and the EU Delegation for introducing, implementing and sustaining the Support to Democratic Governance Programme in Nigeria. The Commission will continue to work with the EU, our development partners and all electoral stakeholders to ensure the sustainability of our electoral reforms in order to protect the integrity and guarantee the credibility of election outcomes based on the rule of law and the will of the electorate.”

On the importance of the programme, Yakubu said: “Under the Programme implemented by the European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES), the commission received various support mainly in the areas of training and capacity building for our staff, engagement with stakeholders, voter education and public enlightenment and the promotion of inclusivity.

“The support went a long way to complement the commission’s efforts at strengthening our organisational and planning capacity, improvement of our internal and external communication, more frequent consultation with stakeholders and advocacy for increased participation in the electoral process.

“The combination of these actions and activities not only enhanced public confidence in the commission but also provided valuable assistance in strengthening the integrity and credibility of the electoral process.

“A major achievement in this regard is the progressive provisions of the Electoral Act 2022, especially the deployment of technology for voter accreditation and result management at the polling unit level.

“It is commendable that the EU-SDGN II is designed to build on the successes achieved under Phase I. The new programme is anchored on the priorities of the European Union and the Federal Republic of Nigeria as contained in the Indicative Programme 2021-2027 and formulated based on the key recommendations of the EU Election observation Mission (EU-EOM) report on the 2015 and 2019 General Elections.

“The thematic components and strategic areas of intervention in the programme include support to INEC; the National Assembly; the Judiciary; Political Parties; Civil Society Organisations; the Media; and the promotion of inclusivity through increased participation of women, youth and other marginalised groups in the electoral and democratic processes,” he said.

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Source: news