With less than 140 days to Nigeria’s general elections, international election groups have registered their concerns on various looming issues that could hamper the entire electoral process.
The delegates from the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) gave the hint after their second joint pre-election assessment mission in Nigeria.
The second assessment delegation comprised Robert Benjamin, Senior Associate & Regional Director for Central and East Europe, NDI (USA); Mvemba Dizolele, Professorial Lecturer at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (Democratic Republic of the Congo); John Tomaszewski, Africa Director, IRI (USA) and other foreign delegates, who met with an array of election stakeholders, including the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), political parties and religious leaders, civil society representatives, security forces, academics, and representatives of the international community.
In their statement made available to Sunday Sun, the delegates pointed out some of the factors they believe could derail Nigeria’s 2019 election. The factors are: the delays in finalizing legal framework for the 2019 elections, delayed release of funds, security threats, vote buying, incitement to violence and disinformation, barriers to internal party democracy caused by activities of political elite and the so-called “godfathers,” as well as barriers for women, youth, and persons with disability (PWDs).
While expressing their worry on the rising skepticism among Nigerians on INEC’s ability to conduct a credible poll amid these challenges, the delegates warned that the issues, if left unaddressed, could limit the ability of Nigerians to experience a fully participatory and credible poll process.
The delegates’ assessment mission which was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), also in the spirit of international cooperation, gave recommendations to the Federal Government and other election stakeholders like INEC, political parties, civil society, state- owned and private media, and international community, on how to avert the ominous challenges that would hamper free and fair polls in 2019. “We believes that with political will and through coordinated efforts by all stakeholders, many of the above-mentioned challenges can be addressed to enhance citizen confidence and participation in elections and mitigate violence during and after the polls.”