At a news conference held at the Transcorp Hilton in Abuja on Monday, the European Union’s Election Observation Mission gave a preliminary report on their observations of Nigeria’s general election in 2023.
In his speech, the mission’s chief observer, Barry Andrews, revealed that there were 110 observers overall, including 96 short-term observers and representatives of the European Parliament as well as the mission’s 11 core team members.
He said that extensive claims of vote-buying, voter misinformation, and lack of preparation at crucial points in the electoral process all contributed to the poor quality of the elections.
Basic rights to assemble and move around were mostly protected, but the latter was not fully exercised due to inadequate planning, security risks, and ongoing naira and fuel shortages. Vote buying was widely suspected, and numerous political officeholders abused their incumbency to tilt the playing field.
Overall, stakeholders had indicated trust in INEC’s impartiality, professionalism, and voter education initiatives; but, this confidence had declined in the run-up to the elections.
“INEC lacked effective planning and openness during crucial phases of the election, and on election day, trust in INEC was viewed to further decline due to delayed polling processes and information gaps relating to much-anticipated access to results on its Results Viewing Portal.
“The implementation of the IReV and the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) for the elections in 2023 was seen as a crucial step in ensuring the legitimacy and integrity of elections. However, a lack of knowledge about the election technologies, a poor mock testing exercise, and a delay in technical personnel training reduced expectations and created room for rumor and confusion.
While praising voters for their voting participation, Andrew said that in order to avoid meddling in the election process, the EU would continue to monitor the tallying of votes as well as the March 11 governorship and state assembly elections. The EU would then present its final reports three months after the conclusion of the election processes.
“The mission will continue its operations through March 11 for the gubernatorial and local state council elections, continuing to watch the ongoing process relating to the presidential and National Assembly elections until it is concluded. Our mission will give a final report with suggestions, resolving issues, three months after the procedure is complete, he said.
Affirmative action, such as quotas, are called for in the manifestos of the major political parties in Nigeria, according to Head of European Parliament Delegates, Miss Evin Incir, who voiced worry that less than 10% of all candidates in the elections were women.