Unlike its tradition, the European Union Election Observation Mission(EUEOM) to Nigeria on Tuesday said it would dedicate additional two months to monitor and scrutinise post-presidential election complaints and petitions in Nigeria, after the February 14 presidential election.
EUEOM also further clarified its decision to stay away from election monitoring duties in states within Nigeria’s troubled North-eastern region, saying the realities on ground do not support any possibility of it covering the elections there.
EU Chief Observer, Santiago Fisas Ayxela, while briefing journalists in company of the EU Deputy Observer, Hannah Roberts, said the EU is in Nigeria on the invitation of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to observe the forthcoming poll.
He said they were not in the exercise to interfere in its proceedings.
Ayxela equally disclosed that it made 50 recommendations on how to improve on subsequent elections in the country, to the federal government from its observation in the 2011 elections but that only one was implemented.
“We cannot interfere. We do not take sides. We were simply mandated to provide an assessment of the electoral process, and to make recommendations for future elections,” Ayxela said.
He further said: “We are planning to stay for two months after the presidential election to scrutinise the petition process. “We know that this part of the process is critical for electoral justice. Therefore, we will be here to see how it works in practice.”
Commenting on the recommendations the EU made with regards to the last elections, the EU envoy stated that of the 50 recommendations it made to the federal government, only one, the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act, was implemented.
Noting that since the last elections, the FoI Act had been passed, Ayxela however said the National Assembly has not made other recommended changes to the legislation of the elections.
He emphasised that the ultimate acceptance of the legitimacy of the process, rests with the Nigerian stakeholders, and that in order to make useful contribution to the process, the EU has deployed a longer observation mission than is typical with it.
On the conduct of party primaries which some EU advanced observers monitored, he said the EU noted that the primaries were relatively peaceful and according to schedule, saying however, the system is problematic.
On why the EU would not deploy observers to the North-east, Ayxela said the EU has a methodology that is very comprehensive, saying it was in Nigeria for a national coverage and not just a one day coverage.
He added that the EU was aware of the realities on ground across the country, saying in the case of the North-east, it is really difficult because of the security situation.
European Union (EU) Election Observation Mission, yesterday (EU EOM) described the forthcoming election a test for Nigeria’s democracy, noting that as much as there is need for electoral justice, violence does not change results of elections there.
EUEOM yesterday conference in Abuja, added that the observer team will be looking at the entire process over an extended period with over 90 observers out on election day.
He noted: “In my meetings with senior representatives, they talked of honouring the Abuja Accord, for the elections to be peaceful. Violence does not change results. It is also of course critical that: The elections are fair, transparent and credible, and there is electoral justice. It is up to the institutions, the political parties, and the people of Nigeria to make this happen.”
He, however, stated that “the elections scheduled for February are a crucial and challenging test for democracy in Nigeria. These are important not just for Nigeria and its neighboring countries, but also for the EU.”
He noted that the EUEOM is observing at the invitation of the Nigerian authorities.
He added: “We will also stay longer as the petitions process is critical. We observe and analyse each component of the process, carefully considering how those competing and voting in the elections are served. We will give our preliminary assessment two days after each election day. A final report, including recommendations for future elections, will be published at a later stage. The EU EOM will always be impartial and objective and will not interfere.”
“We all know there are technical challenges with this election, with the collection of voters’ cards, the use of new technology with the card readers, and delays in the petitions process. Clearly, there are concerns about voters being included, the fairness of the process, and the ability of tribunals and courts to provide remedy in cases of grievances.”