The European Union Election Observers Mission (EUEOM) has berated the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the conduct of the 2019 general election, pointing out that the process lacked transparency.
This is as the President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, assured Nigerians that the 9th National Assembly would prioritize credible and acceptable electoral processes which would meet the best practices for the citizenry.
The leader of the EU Elections Observers Mission in Nigeria, Ambassador Ketil Karlsen, during a visit to the Senate President yesterday in Abuja, noted that “there were insufficient checks and transparency in the result process, as well as a general lack of public communication and information.”
“While the legal framework broadly provides for democratic elections and some improvements were made in the Constitution, various legal shortcomings remained in relation to the use of smart card readers.
“There was abuse of the power of incumbency at the federal and state levels in terms of the use of the media for campaign messages. Except for the federal radio, state media served primarily the interest of the president or governor at the state level,” Karlsen said.
The EU Mission leader added that 30 recommendations were brought up for electoral reforms and another seven priority recommendations that were comprehensively arrived at.
Karlsen added that the reports were to correct anomalies in elections so that such inadequacies would not be repeated in the future.
He called on National Assembly to engage in an inclusive debate and dialogues in order to arrive at a more promising electoral system.
Karlsen said that Nigeria was an important partner of the European Union, adding that as an old friend and close ally in terms of economy, job creation, migration and other key areas, EU would continue to collaborate with Nigeria.
He said INEC invited them as monitoring body in the last elections, saying as independent observers, EU visited hundreds of polling stations in the country during the polls, affirming that the exercise afforded the observers to see events on self-appraisals.
On his part, the Senate President said that Nigerian government attached great importance to electioneering process, noting that every election availed stakeholders in elections processes lessons to learn.
Lawan commended the European Union Mission for the recommendations provided on the last elections, saying that Nigerians would learn from the observations and recommendations of the Mission.
He further called on the Mission to continue to support Nigeria in her effort to improve on her electoral process and also to help the country in capacity building of the country’s parliamentarians.
His words: “What can be more important than meeting with elections observers from the European Union? We consider our elections of great importance; we have lessons to learn and we want our elections to be credible and meet with best practices.
“The National Assembly has always worked hard on Electoral Act to ensure that we improve on the standard. Your recommendations will fire us to better electoral processes.
“We need to see an improvement in our electoral system; we solicit for your support to further boost knowledge of our members and Committees relevant to this course.
“We in the 9th Assembly will continue to work in a committed and united manner to offer the best to the electorate.
“INEC is one institution that has always been supported by the National Assembly. They also require more support and resources. The resources available are not enough for the enormous tasks. Our desire is that our electoral umpire continues to be independent and improve to perform the statutory functions creditably well.”