The joint international observation mission of the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI) says this year’s general elections did not meet the expectations of many Nigerians.
This is contained in the IRI/NDI Nigeria International Election Observation Mission Final Report jointly presented, yesterday, in Abuja by Dr. Chris Fomunyoh, the NDI Senior Associate for Africa and Regional Director for Central and West Africa; and Ms. Elizabeth Lewis, Acting Regional Director for Africa Division at the IRI.
According to the report, to many Nigerians, the 2019 elections, the sixth since the country’s 1999 transition back to civilian democratic rule, were an opportunity to consolidate democratic gains and build on sound electoral practices but was not to be.
“The IRI/NDI observation mission concluded that the 2019 elections did not meet the expectations of many Nigerians. The last-minute postponement of the presidential and National Assembly elections on the morning of February 16, and delays in opening some polling units and other administrative challenges on February 23 undermined public confidence in INEC.
“While INEC distributed materials and opened polls in a more timely fashion for the March 9 gubernatorial and State Assembly elections, many serious irregularities occurred, including vote buying, intimidation of voters and election officials, and election-related violence,” it said.
The report also berated the registered political parties for remaining the weakest link among Nigeria’s nascent democratic institutions, especially with their operation on opaque candidate nomination processes that led to violence in some states and many pre-election lawsuits numbering over 800.
“The paucity of women and youth nominated to run on the tickets of the two major parties, the APC and PDP, demonstrated Nigerian political elites’ lack of commitment to opening space for new faces and new voices. Moreover, political parties and their leaders did not uphold their commitment to peaceful and credible elections, failing to restrain and hold accountable members and supporters who committed electoral offenses,” the report said.
The report, among others, recommended that Nigerian stakeholders should seriously consider their observations and other recommendations to improve the electoral process, unlike in previous years when suggestions by reputable citizens and international observation missions went ignored.
It also called for a comprehensive, inclusive and expeditious electoral reform process; and time limits for the adjudication of pre-election petitions among others.