EU points at ‘systemic problems’ in Nigeria elections

March 12th, 2019

The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) to Nigeria has con­cluded that the governorship and State House of Assembly elections on March 9 were marred by overall low turnout and violence including against election officials and voters.

The mission said while there were operational improvements in the elections, these were overshad­owed by systemic failings, including a lack of transparency, incumbency advantage and a troubling electoral security environment.

The EU Chief Observer, Ma­ria Arena, said this while presenting the mission’s preliminary statement in Abuja on Monday where she said the problems demonstrate the need for an inclusive national discussion on electoral reform.

Millions of Nigerians on Satur­day voted in the elections. Governor­ship elections were held in 29 states while state assembly elections were held in all 36 states. Council elec­tions were held in the Nigerian cap­ital, Abuja.

While results have been an­nounced in some states, collation is still ongoing in other states.

According to Ms Arena, the mis­sion deployed 73 observers to moni­tor voting, counting and the collation of results in 22 states, in all the geo­political zones.

Ms Arena condemned the vio­lence and intimidation against elec­tion officials and voters, and also re­ferred to the obstruction of citizen observers by the military and securi­ty agents on election day – observers, including EU observers, were denied access to collation centres in Rivers.

“Overall, the elections were competitive with freedom to cam­paign. However, there was misuse of incumbency, including on state-owned state media, which prevented a level playing field. In the two weeks leading up to the state elections, EU observers saw some misuse of state offices, as well as institutional web­sites being used for campaigning by both APC and PDP incumbent gov­ernors.

“State-level media broadcast political debates in 21 states, giv­ing voters the opportunity to direct­ly compare candidates. However, in 12 states, incumbents or their main challengers refused to participate.

“All nine state-owned radio sta­tions monitored by the EU Election Observation Mission served the in­terests of incumbent governors. The mission also noted pressure on local media outlets and journalists before and on election day.

“The systemic problems evident in the 2019 electoral process show the need for an inclusive national dis­cussion on reform for greater elector­al integrity and participation.

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