By Progress Godfrey, Abuja
The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU-EOM) is set to deploy about 100 observers for the coming general elections in Nigeria.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja on Monday, the EU-EOM Chief Observer, Barry Andrews, said the observers would be deployed to all of Nigeria’s 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja on election day.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has scheduled 25 February for the Presidential and National Assembly elections and 11 March for the Governorship and States Houses of Assembly elections.
Mr Andrews said the mission would not interfere with the electoral process or make statements that could be seen as interfering with political conversations around the election.
The objective of the mission, he said, is to help develop democracy in Nigeria as the largest democracy on the African continent.
The mission will, therefore, focus on observing the processes leading to the election and on election day as it relates to the implementation of the Electoral Act and INEC’s commitment to delivering a credible poll, he added.
“It is absolutely against all of the principles of our methodology that we will in any way interfere politically with the election debate that is going on,” he said. “That is absolutely a matter for political parties and Nigerian citizens.”
“Our job here is to assess the robustness of the election process itself, to make sure that it is inclusive to the greatest extent possible, that all technologies are as transparent and possible. We will not in any way make statements that could be perceived as politically interfering. And that is the methodology that has been the case for many, many years,” he added.
Deployment of observers
Mr Andrews said the mission has since 29 January deployed 40 long-term observers to follow electoral processes in all of the states.
He said his team comprises 11 experts with competencies in several aspects of elections including a media analyst, social media analyst, and technology, political as well as legal analysts.
He added that seven members of the EU parliament will be joined by 40 locally recruited observers from 25 EU member states.
“In total, around 100 observers will observe the voting, counting, and tabulation procedures on 25 February and 11 March,” he said.
“The EU EOM will issue a preliminary statement two days after each election day and will remain in Nigeria until the completion of the entire electoral process including complaints and appeals processes, and any possible second round of the presidential election.”