In its final report, the Commonwealth group observing Nigeria’s general elections of 23 February has concluded that the process was transparent and the result was credible:
“While the environment was tense and there were instances of violence, overall, fundamental freedoms of association, expression, assembly and movement were generally respected. Our overall conclusion is that the voting, closing and counting processes at polling units were transparent, and offered Nigerians, for the most part, the opportunity to express their will and exercise their franchise,” the report stated.
The Group underscored several positive aspects of the elections, including better youth participation and an increase in the number of women presidential candidates. It also noted that several legislative provisions were implemented to enhance the participation of people with disabilities in the electoral process.
However, the Group’s report also acknowledged that “electoral reform is a continuous process, building on what has worked successfully and addressing weaknesses. Our collective view is that there were considerable organisational, logistical and technical difficulties with these elections, which we trust that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)and other national stakeholders will wish to address.”
The Commonwealth Observer Group was led by Jakaya Kikwete, former President of Tanzania. These were the sixth elections that the Commonwealth has been invited to observe in Nigeria since 1999.
The Group’s report offers specific recommendations to contribute to “the deepening of democracy and strengthening of the electoral processes in Nigeria.”
It has been sent to the Government of Nigeria, political parties and other stakeholders. More about Commonwealth elections observation