The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) said the last election in Nigeria “exposed enduring systemic weaknesses in the country.
The group said the observation signals further “legal and operational reforms to enhance transparency, inclusiveness, and accountability.”
EU EOM made the revelation as it presented its final report on Nigeria’s 2023 general elections Tuesday.
The EU EOM Chief Observer, Barry Andrews, while addressing Journalists, in Abuja, on Tuesday, stated that the mission, which accredited a total of 110 observers from 25 EU Member States, as well as Norway, Switzerland, and Canada.”, had carried out its work between January 11 and April 11 on the invitation of the INEC.
The EU observer team listed six priority recommendations, which he said point to the need to; remove ambiguities in the law; establish a publicly accountable selection process for INEC members; ensure real-time publication of and access to election results; provide greater protection for media practitioners; address discrimination against women in political life, and; impunity regarding electoral offenses.
The EU EOM offered 23 recommendations for consideration by the Nigerian authorities that would contribute to improvement of future elections.
He disclosed that the delegation of the European Parliament joined the EU Election Observer Mission( EOM) for the observation of the Presidential and National Assembly elections, adding that “in the lead up to the 2023 general elections, Nigerians demonstrated a clear commitment to the democratic process.”
The EU EOM noted that shortcomings in law and electoral administration hindered the conduct of well-run and inclusive elections and damaged trust in INEC.
Andrews said: “We are particularly concerned about the need for reform in six areas which we have identified as priority recommendations, and we believe, if implemented, could contribute to improvements for the conduct of elections.”
“ Importantly, there is a need for political will to achieve improved democratic practices in Nigeria,” insisting that inclusive dialogue between all stakeholders on electoral reform remains crucial.
The EU EOM Chief Observer, assured that the European Union is ready to support Nigerian stakeholders in the implementation of these recommendations.
But, speaking after the presentation of the report, the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, of INEC, Festus Okoye, assured that INEC will harmonise all the reports
Okoye who admitted that INEC experienced sone “challenges”, during the exercise, assured that the recommendations would be worked on and implemented.
“We are going to harmonise all the reports by international observers that have been presented and we are going to look at the reports holistically.”
He however, noted that the 2023 general election recorded significant improvements over the previous elections, as was shown in the international observers report.
“From the report presented, the EU made mention of the fact that there have been significant improvements in our electoral process and there have been so many positives to this particular election.
“One of the positives is that we registered over 93 million Nigerians during this election. Not only that, if you look at the reports submitted by international observers, in terms of voters accreditation, the BVAS performed optimally.”
“But there were also a few challenges and looking at those challenges, one must look at the context and the environment of the election.
“Insecurity was in some parts of the country, which we cannot dispute. Secondly, violence was targeted at our staff and some Nigerians. Fuel scarcity and naira redesign also were challenges.”
“Recommendations have been made on administrative and legal issues and we are going to harvest them and implement them.