Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is being urged to remain impartial and transparent and ensure the conduct of Saturday’s general elections conforms with international best practices.
The West Africa Election Observers Network (WAEON), which is making the call, says the conduct of a free, fair, peaceful and credible elections not only represents the aspirations of majority of adult Nigerias, it is also good and healthy for Africa.
In a statement it issued Wednesday, WAEON said the elections on Saturday, February 16, 2019, the sixth consecutive election since the country’s return to multi-party democracy in 1999, marks a steady progress in the country’s democratic journey.
“Accordingly, there is the need for all stakeholders to work to consolidate gains made so far by ensuring credible and peaceful election outcomes”, it said.
WAEON acknowledged that “election is a crucial pillar of democracy. Fortunately, most Nigerians share this view too. According to 2017 Afrobarometer survey, 72% of adult Nigerians support elections as the legitimate and best way to choose leaders, while 67% indicate that their most recent election (the 2015 general election) was “completely free and fair” or “free and fair with minor problems.”
The Network said these findings present an opportunity for electoral stakeholders to defy all odds to work assiduously to deliver to Nigerians’ a free, fair, credible and peaceful elections and that such outcomes would help deepen gains made in institutionalizing democracy.
WAEON also encouraged Nigeria’s security services “to exhibit high professional standards in discharging their duties during the polls and keep polling stations safe from threats of intimidation and violence, in order not to discourage voters from turning up for the polls.”
It wished the people of Nigeria a successful election which it said can only be touted as credible and peaceful if all stakeholders diligently contribute their quota in ensuring acceptable outcomes.
Nigeria has about 84 million registered voters, while 71 persons are contesting the presidencial race, with 8,878 candidates contesting national and gubernatorial posts.