The Commonwealth Observer Group currently in Nigeria to witness the general elections will be deployed this Wednesday to various regions of the country, to observe preparations for polling day.
More than 84 million registered voters are expected to exercise their franchise during the presidential and national assembly elections on 16 February.
There are 91 registered political parties and 73 presidential candidates, with the two most prominent parties being the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
The Chair of the Commonwealth Observer Group, former President of the United Republic of Tanzania Jakaya Kikwete issued an arrival statement today, urging all citizens to play their part in ensuring peaceful and credible elections.
“As a group, we are here to observe the organisation and conduct of the election process as a whole, and will form an impartial and independent assessment of its credibility,” he stated. “The Commonwealth Observer Group will consider the pre-election period, polling day itself, as well as the post-election period.”
Members of the group have been in Abuja since 8 February, following an advance team that arrived on 29 January. They will observe preparations leading up to polling day and meet with various stakeholders. On election day, the group will observe the opening, voting, closing, counting and the results management processes.
“Our main task is to assess whether the elections have been conducted according to the national, regional and international standards to which Nigeria has committed itself, including its own laws,” stated Dr Kikwete.
“The next few days will be especially critical for the nation, and we hope that our Group’s presence will confirm the unwavering solidarity of the Commonwealth with the People of Nigeria as they go into these elections.”
Nigeria is the largest economy in Africa and a key member of the Commonwealth family. The Commonwealth has a long tradition of supporting the nation’s democratic development through election observation. This will be the sixth time a Commonwealth Observer Group will be observing elections in Nigeria, since 1999.