From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu, has assured the United Nations (UN) that the commission will not disappoint or fail Nigerians and the international community in conducting credible, transparent, inclusive elections next year.
The assurance was contained in his remarks during the meeting with the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) in Abuja on Monday.
He also revealed that Nigeria will participate in the 9-Nation conference of Electoral Commissions and election experts this week as part of the build up to the crucial polls next year.
“We believe that your visit will not only encourage us in our determination to conduct credible, transparent, inclusive and verifiable elections but we will also share the outcome of our discussion with colleagues from other electoral commissions in West Africa and beyond.
“We are aware of the importance of our elections to Nigeria, our sub-region and the world. We assure you that the commission will not fail the nation and the international community. We will continue to make incremental improvement to our electoral process supported by the deployment of appropriate and relevant technology that will make voter accreditation and result management more credible and transparent,” the commission’s boss noted.
Speaking further, Yakubu said: “Since your arrival in Nigeria, we have followed your engagements with stakeholders. In particular, we appreciate your fervent appeal for support to the efforts of INEC to conduct peaceful elections. With just 81 days to the 2023 General Election, we have made tremendous progress in our preparations so far. This is the 7th consecutive general election since the restoration of democracy in Nigeria in 1999.
“We are immensely honoured by your presence in the same way that we were privileged to host two of your predecessors, Mohamed Ibn Chambas who visited us twice before the last general elections in 2019 and, most recently, Mahamat Saleh Annadif who was here in June this year.
“Your visit today is part of the long-standing relationship with UNOWAS in particular and the United Nations in general. Not long ago, the Secretary-General deployed the United Nations Needs Assessment Mission (NAM) to Nigeria in addition to the sustained support in the areas of voter education, capacity-building and support to our Election Monitoring Support Centre (EMSC) through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
“For UNOWAS, we appreciate your work in the areas of preventive diplomacy, political mediation and facilitation in West Africa and the Sahel. These are critical conditions for peace. Election Management Bodies are major beneficiaries of your work.
“This is because elections and electoral activities cannot be successfully conducted in an atmosphere of violence. For this reason, INEC always appreciates the role of UNOWAS in our sub-region and the Sahel.
“At different fora, Electoral Commissions in West Africa and beyond have expressed concern about the impact of prevailing insecurity on the conduct of elections, particularly with regard to insurgency, banditry and other forms of armed conflict.
“Consequently, a 9-nation conference of Electoral Commissions and election experts is holding this week in Ouagadougou involving the host, Burkina Faso, as well as Benin Republic, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo from West Africa; and the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo from Central Africa. Nigeria will be making two presentations at the Conference,” he disclosed.