The African Union (AU) Election Observation Mission (AUEOM) to Nigeria’s election on Monday urged all political parties and candidates in Nigeria to uphold the commitment to peaceful elections and resolution of disputes.
The 55-member pan African bloc, in a preliminary election-assessment that was issued on Monday, also urged Nigerian political parties “to call on their supporters to remain calm and peaceful, and refrain from any action that might incite post-election violence.”
“In case of any grievances over the election results, political parties and candidates are also encouraged to use the legal instruments at their disposal to seek redress,” the statement read.
The AU mission also called on Nigerians and all stakeholders “to act responsibly in the use of social media and refrain from spreading false information on the elections.”
According to the AU, the Feb. 23 election, which marked the sixth consecutive elections since the return to civilian rule in Nigeria back in 1999, “attests to a growing democratic culture” in the West African nation.
While congratulating the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for being open and cooperative with electoral observers, the AU mission also urged INEC to “expeditiously and transparently collate and announce the results of the Presidential and National Assembly elections as provided for by law.”
The mission also disclosed that the 2019 Presidential and National Assembly elections in Nigeria “provided an opportunity for the consolidation of democracy in Nigeria.”
“The AUEOM observed that the political space has broadened as evidenced by the high number of political parties and candidates that took part in the elections,” the statement read.
Noting that the election process was “largely peaceful and orderly, and in conformity with Nigeria’s legal framework,” the AU mission said that it is “impressed by the patience and resilience demonstrated by Nigerians during the elections,” the statement read.
The AU also indicated that “the presence of security personnel outside the polling units was observed and their performance was non-intrusive.”
Over 90 percent of voting points observed were laid out in a manner that allowed for easy flow of voters, in which ballot boxes were also placed in public view.
The AU observers also reported that the polling procedures such as verification, authentication and accreditation of voters were adhered to in 98.4 percent of the voting points observed.
In 7.3 percent of the voting points observed, the process was stopped due to malfunctioning of the smart card readers and insufficient materials.
The mission, however, indicated that more than half of is observer teams reported “lack of essential election materials in the voting points,” which include ballot boxes, polling booths, ballot papers, copy of voter register, and smart card readers.
“Generally, polling staff did not demonstrate sufficient knowledge and competence in application of the opening procedures,” the statement read.
Despite these challenges, the mission announced that all its observers reported that the environment outside the polling units “was peaceful, even though some polling units were overcrowded and congested.”
The pan African bloc also called on the INEC to continue to improve election management to address the consistent postponement of elections through proper planning and execution of election logistics and operations.
Political parties and young people are also urged to leverage the opportunity created by the “Not Too Young to Run Act” to increase political participation and representation.
The elections recorded the highest level of participation, with more than 84 million registered voters and 73 presidential candidates.
The AU election observation mission to Nigeria’s election, which was led by Ethiopia’s former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and assisted by the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Minata Samate Cessouma, comprised four core team members and 50 short-term observers drawn from AU member states and institutions.
The mission mainly aimed to provide an accurate and impartial reporting or assessment of the quality of elections in Nigeria, including “the degree to which the conduct of the elections meets regional, continental and international standards for democratic elections,” it was noted. Enditem