… Restates Commitment to Democratic Process, Electoral Improvement The Presidency says it welcomes, with reservations, the joint report of the International Republic Institute (IRI) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) on the 2019 general elections in Nigeria and recommendations for the 2023 general elections. While reacting to an earlier report by the European Union Election
… Restates Commitment to Democratic Process, Electoral Improvement
The Presidency says it welcomes, with reservations, the joint report of the International Republic Institute (IRI) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) on the 2019 general elections in Nigeria and recommendations for the 2023 general elections. While reacting to an earlier report by the European Union Election Observer Mission (EU EOM), it also restated its commitment to the democratic process and the desire to further improve on the next election.
“We have developed a tradition of improvements in our electoral process through enforcement of our electoral law which resulted in the prosecution and conviction of electoral officers that were found wanting in compromising our electoral process.”
“We, however, agree notwithstanding, that there are improvements that must be made in the process for the future. The sheer size, terrain and remoteness of certain regions do pose serious logistical challenges<” it says.
In statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicty, Mr Garba Shehu, the Presidency declares that, “It is instructive that President Muhammadu Buhari clearly won this vote by almost four million majority, with a 14% margin,” noting that, “the report in no way disputes that fundamental fact.”
The main opponent, Mr Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is presently in court challenging the outcome of the election.
“However, the most important thing in an election is that it reflects the will of the people which in our circumstances was acknowledged to have been a success by ECOWAS Observer Mission and YIAGA AFRICA whose parallel vote tabulation verified INEC’s presidential election result as announced. This we achieved,” it says.
It contends that election observation pose a problem for electoral observers: across a country of over 190 million people as only 40 observers were deployed to observe just 16 states plus the Federal Capital Territory (Nigeria has 36 states).
The Presidency says, “It was unfortunate that the election was postponed yet imagine if the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had gone ahead unprepared. The delay undoubtedly resulted in a lower turnout”.
“Because they are registered to vote in their place of birth, and not where they live, many Nigerians could not make arrangements to travel back again.
“But the fact still remains that major democracies of the world have equally recorded worst turnout in modern history.
“The effect of voter turnout, at any rate, is a two-way traffic that affected both sides equally.
To pretend otherwise is wrong considering that in 2015, the INEC postponed the election by six weeks under a PDP President, whom – as an incumbent – it was said to help at the time. It didn’t make a difference. Similarly, neither did it aid the sitting President in 2019.
“It is amazing that the electoral observers recommended that electoral laws are enforced, and perpetrators of crimes punished and at the same time implicitly criticise the removal of the Chief Justice of Nigeria for failing to disclose his assets as required by law. Which would they prefer?
“The law is a matter of principle that takes its course regardless of time and circumstances. It is never a matter of convenience and indeed remains functional, operational and enforceable without due regard to the electioneering process.
“As we have already said, we are committed to reviewing our electoral laws and processes, like every democracy across the world should.
“We intend to build on the innovations of this election that facilitate inclusiveness and participation, such as providing braille for blind people to cast their votes among other innovations.
“This election was won by the candidate who received the most votes. We value the report’s recommendations. We can assure they shall be assessed and evaluated.
The Presidency has also welcomed the report of the European Union (EU) on the 2019 general elections in Nigeria, promising to analyse it fully and act on the recommendations.
It notes that the EU observers had been invited to the country by the INEC and welcomed by the government of President Buhari.
“This was a clear indication of the administration’s good intentions, commitment to a pure democratic process, and desire to improve for the next elections.
“The EU noted in their report that there were marked improvements from previous elections, although stating that more work needed to be done.
“The administration of President Buhari will work with all Nigerian citizens, state institutions, parties, civil society, the media and other experts to make sure that the improvements recommended by the EU are implemented, and that these areas of concern are addressed.
“It is noteworthy that INEC is in receipt of a number of recommendations that form a part of the EU report.
The Presidency assures that the Commission is in safe hands and happy that they are currently engaged in root and branch reviews of the 2019 general elections and will input lessons learned into its recommendations for electoral and constitutional reforms.
“We believe that the Commission conducted a good election and will continue to improve on its processes and procedures.
“While it is regretted that the elections in a few parts of the country witnessed some violence, among other shortcomings highlighted by the EU, we note however that none of these hitches affected the overall outcome of the elections.
“Thankfully, EU did not question the results of the presidential election.
“For instance, on page 3 in its Executive Summary, the EU said: “positively, the elections were competitive, parties were overall able to campaign and civil society enhanced accountability.’’
“The report also acknowledged that INEC made a number of improvements, including making electoral participation more accessible through simplified voting procedures.
“According to the report, INEC made efforts to strengthen electoral integrity by issuing regulations making smart card readers mandatory.
“On page 4, the EU noted that the elections were competitive with a large number of candidates for all seats although competition was primarily between the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party.
According to the report ‘‘parties and candidates were overall able to campaign, with freedoms of assembly, expression and movement broadly respected.’’
“On Page 5, the report noted that the EU EOM media monitoring over 46 days showed federal government-owned Radio’s commitment to balanced election coverage.
“It said that positively in almost all observations, party agents received copies of the results forms, adding that the National Collation Centre for the presidential election was open to party agents and observers, and was continuously televised
“Again on page 37, the report said the national collation Centre for the presidential results was open to party agents, observers and the media with each state’s results projected on a large screen. ‘‘There was continuous live television coverage and the media published the results as announced by INEC, thereby increasing access to results information.’’
“Page 41 under section RESULTS AND STAKEHOLDER REACTION, EU SAID: ‘‘YIAGA Africa announced that the results were consistent with its parallel vote tabulation that INDEPENDENTLY projected the results based on a sample of 1,515 polling units. The two leading parties won 96.8% of the valid votes between them.’’
“This is further proof that the polls reflected the overall will of Nigerians, and that the world is solidly behind the election of President Buhari for a second term,” the Presidency says.
The reports of the IRI, NDI and EU indicated some infraction in the 2019 general elections and made recommendations for improving the electoral process as the country prepares for another major election in 2023.
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