U.S observers decry election management in Nigeria, calls for reforms

United States of America observers have decried the lack of progress in election administration in Nigeria

-The International Republican Institute (IRI) and National Democratic Institute (NDI) also bemoaned the conduct of political parties in Nigeria.

– The institutes expressed disappointment at the conduct of the Nigeria 2019 general elections.

The International Republican Institute (IRI) and National Democratic Institute (NDI) have regretted what they described as the lack of progress in election administration and conduct of political parties in Nigeria.

Addressing a press conference today, Monday, March 11, Abuja, the African Regional Director of IRI, John Tomaszewski, expressed the disappointments his delegation felt at the conduct of the Nigeria 2019 general elections.

He stated that opinion of Nigerians on the entire exercise were not considered, pointed to the electoral retrogression instead of progressing in electoral processes and outcomes.

“We noticed vote-buying, violence, militarisation, say foreign observers.

The observers particularly identified vote-buying and electoral violence as some of the setbacks in the conduct of the exercise in various parts of Nigeria.

Tomaszewski went further to conclude that the country had not made any significant progress since the 2015 outing.

According to him, the secrecy of the ballot was not uniformly protected in polling units observed, adding that insufficient physical space within some of the units meant citizens marked and cast their ballots in very close proximity to party agents, polling and security officials as well as the public.

He also called for a national conversation on progress made and vulnerabilities that must be overcome to further strengthen the credibility of electoral process and safeguard the nation’s democracy.

He urged the federal government to expeditiously implement the reports of the Justice Mohammed Uwais and Senator Ken Nnamani panels raised in 2008 and 2017, to allow for the establishment of relevant institutions to oversee political parties and prosecute electoral offences and other responsibilities that currently impede Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) focus on election management.

He noted that the Nigerian government had not given vent to the 35 per cent affirmative principle captured in the 2006 National Gender Policy, adding that the National Assembly had continually bungled the opportunity to adopt legislation that supports greater participation of women in politics.

He further called on the National Assembly to prioritise legislation that would promote women’s leadership and political participation, notably by the adoption of the Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room (Situation Room) has called for an independent inquiry into the conduct of 2019 general elections.

The group made the call at a press conference addressed by its convener, Mr. Clement Nwankwo on Sunday, March 10.

The group said the inquiry should address many issues that have bedeviled the conduct of the polls including procurement, logistics management, role of the military and abuse of process by INEC officials amongst others.

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