EU election observers recommend stronger Commission

It recommended simultaneous accreditation and voting to ease the process, as well as greater women participation in political contests.

Amina Zakari

The EU Observation Team to the 2015 General Elections on Tuesday urged the Federal Government to strengthen the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to enable it to deal with more complex electoral matters.

This is contained in the 30-point recommendation it made when Mr Santiago Fisas, the Chief Observer of the EU to the 2015 general elections presented the report to the Federal Government.

The delegation comprised Amb. Michel Arrion, the EU Head of Delegation to Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States(ECOWAS), Mr Santiago Fisas Ayxela, Chief Observer, and Pauline ToreHall, its Head of Politics, Information and Communication.

After submitting the report to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Fisas said the group also recommended a better voter registration and accreditation process for polls in the country.

The EU recommended wider choice of candidates to enable independent candidates to participate without being tied to the vagaries of political parties.

The team recommended more control of the state media to give equal representation to all parties, as well as to avoid denying candidates who emerged from the primaries to run for the elections.

The EU used the opportunity to again thank the Nigerian electorate for having peaceful and successful polls and transition programme.

"I congratulate the Nigerian people because they were really committed to democracy and the elections.

"Elections on their own come with problems which are important to be improved upon but the Nigerians showed a good example for many countries in Africa and the world,’’ Fisas said.

Also, Amb. Arrion said that besides the core objective of submitting the election observation report, he took the opportunity to recall where the EU and Nigerian partnership could be implemented.

He said that the trade relations between European investors and Nigerians could be improved upon.

Accordingly, he added, the Commission invited the Vice President to the launch of Business Forum between EU and Nigeria.

He said he raised the burning issue of international migration across the globe by people affected by war and also invited the Vice President to an EU/African summit in Malta in November to address the numerous challenges affecting refugees and economic migrants.

He added that he also highlighted the humanitarian crisis in the North East to ensure the humanitarian needs of those affected by insurgency were tackled.

Responding, the Vice President, pledged the determination of the present administration to guarantee free and fair elections in the country.

According to the Vice President, the commitment is to ensure that any member of the opposition who is voted by the electorate can be declared if he or she wins the election.

"Our duty is to ensure that the electoral system guarantees free and fair elections such that it is possible for an opposition candidate to win if voted for by the people,’’ Osinbajo declared.

He thanked the EU for its active participation throughout the electoral process of the country before, during and after the polls and making useful recommendations that could improve the process.

He gave the assurance that the Federal Government would consider the recommendations as soon as possible.

He said that while the recommendations that required wider consultations would be so subjected, the executive arm of government would urgently consider the ones within its powers to implement.

The Vice President noted that the recommendation on independent candidacy was deliberated upon by the National Assembly prior to the 2015 polls but added that the issue could be re-opened following the recommendation by the EU.

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