Politics

European Union observers say Nigerians’ expectations on 2023 elections not met by INEC

The European Union election observation mission (EU EOM) has said the conduct of the 2023 elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) fell short of the expectations of many Nigerians.

Giving its assessment in a statement in Abuja, chief observer of the mission, Barry Andrews said Nigerians had a great desire for democracy but were disappointed by INEC and the political parties.

Andrews noted that the development led to voter apathy, pointing out that election day was also disrupted by multiple incidents of thuggery and intimidation of voters.

“Throughout the mission, we saw that Nigerians have a great appetite for democracy and are keen to engage in various civic activities,” Andrews said.

“However, in many parts of the country, their expectations were not met. Many were disappointed and we witnessed voter apathy that is in part a clear consequence of failures by political elites and, unfortunately, also by INEC.”

“EU EOM observers noted that voting on 18 March mostly started on time, with INEC ad-hoc officials present and ready to serve the voter. However, polling on election day was disrupted by multiple incidents of thuggery and intimidation of voters, polling officials, observers, and journalists.

“Lagos, Kano, and other states in the southern and central part were most affected. Unfortunately, there were many casualties and fatalities. Vote-buying, also directly observed by EU EOM observers, further detracted from appropriate conduct of the elections.”

“The clear underrepresentation of women as candidates demonstrated a stark lack of internal party policies to support constitutionally prescribed inclusion, also contrary to Nigeria’s international commitments to eradicate discrimination against women,” he said.

“Campaigns in state elections were competitive. Fundamental freedoms of assembly and movement were largely respected. However, insecurity impeded the canvassing for votes in certain parts of the country and organised violent attacks shortly before the elections in several states led to a fearful atmosphere

“Some state governors took executive actions, negatively affecting the campaign environment. EU EOM observers also saw the misuse of administrative resources, including through various financial and in-kind inducements to voters, giving an undue advantage to the party in power.

“Furthermore, the protracted deadlines for candidacy disputes created uncertainty for voters and electoral contestants alike, while clear underrepresentation of women as candidates demonstrated a stark lack of internal party policies to support constitutionally prescribed inclusion, also contrary to Nigeria’s international commitments to eradicate discrimination against women.”

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