ECOWAS, AU, Commonwealth observer missions commend Nigerians
Three observer missions have commended Nigerians for the enthusiasm with which they approached the elections, and urged them to remain calm and respect the outcome of the polls as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
They called on aggrieved parties to use legal channels to resolve any electoral dispute.
The three observer teams are the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), led by former President of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma, and deputised by Baba Kamara, a former National Security Advisor of Ghana; the African Union (AU), led by the former President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, and the Commonwealth, led by former President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa.
Addressing the media in Abuja yesterday, the leaders of the groups, however, expressed grave concern about the delay in collating election results by the INEC which they said was likely to heighten tension and anxiety among Nigerians.
The missions underscored the importance of the Nigeria election for the entire ECOWAS region, in particular, and the whole of Africa.
The groups said a series of meetings were held by the missions with the INEC on arrival in Nigeria to ensure a free, fair and transparent elections to consolidate the democratic gains made by Nigeria since the end of military rule in 1999.
According to them, ECOWAS deployed a 250-member observer team while the AU deployed 90 to the six geographical zones of Nigeria, namely North West, North East, North Central, South West, South East, and South South, in addition to the federal capital territory of Abuja.
They contended that the late start of voting in some areas due to the late arrival of polling officials and voting materials, and in some cases the delivery of wrong materials at polling stations across the country led to some anxiety.
But, vote counting and the tallying process were carried out in a transparent, simple and professional manner in the presence of agents in the daytime in some polling units and with lamps in areas where voting was delayed.
The processes of the election day, the groups stated, unfolded generally in a peaceful environment.
However, incidents of violence, killings and disruptions were recorded in some states.
The missions noted with concern, the increasing misinformation and disinformation on social media, including the misleading conjectures and projections regarding the outcome of the elections, which could cause disaffection and inflame tensions.
Buhari, legislative bodies commended
They commended President Muhammadu Buhari and the legislative bodies of Nigeria for the measures taken, including the adoption of the new Electoral Act that strengthened the autonomy and freedom of action of INEC, which ensured greater transparency and inclusivity of the electoral process.
The mission, however, implored the authorities to apply adequate mitigating measures in the implementation of major policy decisions during elections period, in order to ease the burden of citizen participation in the electoral process.
As the country awaits the announcement of the results by INEC, the mission urged all stakeholders to remain committed to the rule of law and the democratic principles until the conclusion of the whole process.