By Bassey Udo
Ahead of the Nigerian elections scheduled for February 2023, the European Union has deployed its Election Observation Mission in the country.
The EU delegation in Nigeria said in a statement on Wednesday that the deployment of the Mission was in response to the invitation by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to international and local organizations to send their monitoring group preparatory to the general elections scheduled for 25 February and 11 March 2023.
The European Union said High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell, appointed Barry Andrews, Member of the European Parliament, as Chief Observer for the Election Observation Mission (EOM) to Nigeria.
The EU previously deployed Election Observation Missions to Nigeria for the 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015, and 2019 elections.
“These elections will be crucial for the consolidation of democracy in Nigeria, and for the stability of the region. This is the sixth time that the EU deploys an election observation mission to Nigeria, reflecting our commitment to work together to consolidate democracy in the country. The elections are set to be competitive and will take place in a challenging security context. It is our hope that Nigerians will be able to cast their vote in a peaceful environment and that any challenges or disputes will be solved through dialogue or through available legal remedies,” High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell said in the statement by the EU delegation in Nigerian.
The Chief Observer Barry Andrews said: “I am very pleased to have been entrusted with the responsibility for leading this EU Election Observation Mission. The mission is taking place during a period of time when democracy around the globe is in decline. The forthcoming General Elections are therefore not only a key moment in Nigeria’s democratic development but also important to the future of democracy in West Africa and the continent at large. I am looking forward to meeting with electoral stakeholders that are playing important roles in the ongoing electoral process.”
The role of the EU EOM while in Nigeria would be to provide a comprehensive, independent, and impartial assessment of the electoral process based on international and regional standards for democratic elections.
The EU said the Core Team of the EU EOM, consisting of 11 election experts, are expected to arrive in Abuja during the first half of January.
Towards the end of January, the EU said 40 long-term observers would also join the mission to be deployed across the country and follow the electoral campaign.
“Thereafter, short-term observers from the EU diplomatic community as well as Canada, Norway, and Switzerland will reinforce the mission during election day. The EU EOM will remain in the country until the completion of the electoral process,” the delegation said.
“In line with the EU election observation methodology, the mission will issue a preliminary statement and hold a press conference in Abuja after the election day. The final report, which will include a set of recommendations for future electoral processes, will be presented after the finalization of the entire electoral process,” the statement said.