Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has appealed to the interested international election observation missions, wishing to participate in the 2019 general elections, to commence early planning for the deployment of observers.
Delivering a goodwill message during project launch of the European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN Project), in Abuja, Chairman of the commission, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, particularly commended the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Antonio Guterres, for sending the UN Needs Assessment Mission to Nigeria in response to INEC’s request.
“We have already released the timetable and schedule of activities for the 2019 General Elections. We hope that interested international election observation missions can commence early planning for the deployment of observers. The Commission is ready to facilitate the process in accordance with our guidelines,” he said.
Assuring the international communities of the commission’s readiness to organize a credible, free and fair poll in 2019, Prof Yakubu said: “The EU-SDGN support programme, which was conceived under the National Indicative Programme 2014 – 2020 and funded through the 11th European Development Fund 11th EDF) is aimed at consolidating democracy in Nigeria. “Although the basic indicators for the project derive from the recommendations of the EU Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) report on the 2015 General Elections, several national stakeholders made significant input to its formulation.
“The strategic areas of intervention in the project, including support to INEC, were therefore carefully developed in close consultation and collaboration with all relevant election stakeholders. The EU and other development partners have made notable contributions in supporting INEC to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the Commission.
“For our part, we will continue to cooperate and work with the EU, as well as other development partners and all stakeholders, to ensure the consolidation of our electoral processes as well as the integrity and credibility of electoral outcomes based on the will of the people and the rule of law.
“The Commission will continue to support our partnership with the European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES) which is saddled with the responsibility of implementing EU support to INEC. We will work with all the implementing partners towards promoting credible elections involving the full participation of all segments of society irrespective of age, gender and disability.
“INEC welcomes the support from the International Development Partners in the areas of voter education and sensitisation; training and capacity-building for Commission staff, officials of political parties and security agencies; the promotion of inclusivity with particular reference to women, youths, persons with disabilities and the internally displaced as well as election conflict mitigation.
“In this context, I wish to seize this opportunity to place on record our appreciation to the Secretary General of the United Nations Mr Antonio Guterres for sending the UN Needs Assessment Mission to Nigeria in response to INEC’s request.
“We welcome the presence and good work being done by the Mission headed by Serge Gakwandi Kubwimana. Today’s project launch is unique. I wish to express our appreciation to the European Union Delegation to Nigeria for the formulation of the SDGN Project and it is my expectation that the implementing partners will continue to work in synergy to deliver the envisaged support to all targeted beneficiaries in order to further strengthen democratic institutions and the electoral process in Nigeria.
“We are all the more excited because the EU-SDGN Project being launched today is expected to be implemented from 2017-2022 which coincides with the implementation timeframe of our Strategic Plan and Strategic Plan of Action 2017-2021.
“Once again, let me reassure the EU Delegation to Nigeria that we will spare no effort in improving the credibility of our elections and the consolidation of democracy in Nigeria. INEC will continue to welcome international election observation missions. The Commission considers the deployment of such missions as an important means of enhancing public confidence and trust in the electoral process,” he assured.