EU proffers lukewarm response to Nigeria’s electoral process

European Union Election Observation Mission. Photo: RR

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (ADV) – Nigerian elections went on successfully, “but there is a real need for serious reforms,” the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) has said.

Paramount among the reforms is the concern for security.

Several persons were killed during the exercise while armed gangs turned hell lose in several parts of the country during the process.

The reforms should tackle the “systemic failings and electoral security problems especially noted in the last few weeks and months” says the Chief of the EU EOM, Maria Arena on Monday in Abuja.

In a some kind of assessment of the electoral process, Arena told a news conference that there were operational improvements in the 9th March elections.

But she insisted that “these were overshadowed by a troubling electoral security environment, abuse of incumbency and institutional failings.

“ We echo the view of leading civil society organisations that say that there is an urgent need to restore faith in the electoral process,” she said.

On the low turnout of voters, she said: “While there can be many reasons for a low turnout, and it is not for me to speculate.

“It is surely disappointing that, overall, only a relatively small portion of what is by far and away Africa’s largest electorate actually cast a vote on both election days,” she said.

She however expressed the hope that after these elections, parties and institutions should look at what is needed to make voters want to take part in elections.

“Elections can always be better. The systemic problems evident in the 2019 electoral process show the need for an inclusive national discussion on reform for greater electoral integrity and participation,” she said.

On the collation of results, the EU observer team said: “Overall, the process was not in line with international standards for access to information and public accountability.

“Polling for the federal elections was cancelled in a large number of polling units across the country, covering nearly 2.8 million registered voters,” she explained.

“This was four times more than in 2015. While this number did not affect the outcome given the margin of win, this was not a good process. INEC did not provide sufficient information on these cancellations, the specific reasons for them, and the precise local government areas affected. This undermines public confidence in the process.

“There were also some inconsistent numbers in relation to collation, specifically, a large difference between the number of registered voters INEC had announced back in January and the lower number then announced by returning officers at the state level during the collation of the presidential results. Nearly one point seven (1.7) million less in total,” she added.

Finally, she cautioned that during any supplementary elections, the “election administration should be able to do its work freely, security personnel need to work neutrally, and parties need to call their supporters to be calm and to respect the process”.

© Bur-csa – N.W – From our regional correspondent Tamba Jean-Matthew III – African Daily Voice (ADV) – Follow us on Twitter : @ADVinfo_eng