The European Union, EU, and Nigeria on Monday in Abuja, signed a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, to facilitate the monitoring of the general elections in 2015.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Danjuma Sheni, who led Nigeria’s delegation at the occasion, said Nigeria is committed to conducting credible elections in 2015.
Mr. Sheni said Nigeria welcomed the EU team to observe its elections because of the importance of neutral observers in the electoral process.
“Nigeria welcomes the European Union as observers of its elections just as others because of the importance of neutral observers in the electoral process.
“Such observers tend to lend credibility to the legitimacy of the elections. This is precisely the reason why Nigeria is willing to sign this MoU with the European Union delegation.
“The EU observed our 2011 elections which were declared as one of the freest and fairest elections in Nigeria”, he said.
The permanent secretary added that the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Attahiru Jega, had confirmed that the 2015 elections would be conducted under the best international practices.
He, therefore, called on the EU and Nigeria’s other partners to continue to assist INEC to live up to the pledge made by Mr. Jega.
“Nigeria values the presence of the international observers for its elections since this is one of the pillars for strengthening democracy.
“Nigeria is committed to having free, fair, credible, transparent and peaceful elections,” he said.
The Leader of EU delegation, Alan Munday, said the union was committed to improving democratic processes in Nigeria.
Mr. Munday said the objective of any observer mission was not to criticise but to deliver independent report to improve future processes.
He said that the observer mission would look at the whole process of the election from the campaigns to the post-election period.
Mr. Munday called on all stakeholders to respect and play by the rules to ensure a level-playing field, free and fair process for all those involved in the democratic process.
He said the observer team of about 20 to 30 persons would be in Nigeria in the next few weeks.
Mr. Munday said that the team would not be able to cover the whole country owing to the vastness of the country.
He, however, said that it would cover all the geo-political zones, states and the major cities, and collaborate with the locals, NGOs and other international observer teams for effective observation.