By Joy Odor
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has affirmed it’s continued commitment to welcome the deployment of lnternational and Domestic election Observers in Nigeria in line with INEC guidelines.
The INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu gave the affirmation in his speech at the closure of Phase I of the EU Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EUSDGN) project in Nigeria, as well as the launch of EUSDGN phase II in Abuja on Monday.
The phase I of the EU-SDGN focussed on the 2019 electoral process, and ran from 2018-2022, while the Phase II of the EU-SDGN will run between the 2023 to the 2027 electoral process.
NEC Boss explained that the EU-SDGN recommendations have been useful in reviewing its processes and the introduction of some of the progressive reforms in the electoral legal framework in line with global good practices.
He said the deployment of such election observation missions are means of enhancing public confidence and trust in Nigeria’s elections.
Professor Yakubu opined that INEC has already sent out letters to lnternational 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.
He narrated the core costs of Nigeria’s electoral activities, including the acquisition of sensitive and non-sensitive materials for all elections, remain the sovereign responsibility of the country’s Federal Government.
INEC Boss therefore appreciated 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.
“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 polling unit level.
” 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.