……for legal and operational reforms to enhance transparency, inclusiveness, and accountability.
By Musa Ibrahim:
The European Union Election Observer Mission to Nigeria’s 2023 General election (EU EOM) stated on Tuesday that the election did not meet the promised standards of a well-run, transparent, and inclusive democratic process as guaranteed by the INEC. Barry Andrews, the EU Chief Observer and head of the delegation, presented the Mission’s final report in Abuja, highlighting that the election revealed persistent systemic weaknesses and emphasized the need for legal and operational reforms to enhance transparency, inclusiveness, and accountability.
While acknowledging certain improvements in the election’s conduct, such as the utilization of technology such as the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and the INEC Results Viewing Portal (IReV), Andrews expressed disappointment that the 2023 general elections failed to deliver the expected standards of transparency and inclusiveness, contrary to the assurances provided by the INEC.
Furthermore, he mentioned that the presidential poll severely damaged public confidence and trust in the INEC, and this lack of trust persisted during the state-level elections on March 18. Consequently, civil society organizations have called for an independent audit of the entire process to address these concerns.
“Early in the process, while enjoying a broad stakeholder trust, INEC introduced a series of positive measures to strengthen the conduct of the elections. However, closer to the polls some started to doubt INEC’s administrative and operational efficiency and in-house capacity.
“Public confidence gradually decreased and was severely damaged on 25 February due to its operational failures and lack of transparency. While some corrective measures introduced before the March 18 elections were effective, overall trust was not restored,” Andrews said.