Ahead of the Nigerian 2019 general elections, 11 election analysts and 40 long-term observers deployed by the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU- EOM) have arrived Nigeria.
The team’s Chief Observer, Maria Arena, a Belgian and Member of the European Parliament, stated this on Tuesday at a press briefing at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja, where the mission is headquartered.
According to the EU, even though its activities neither legitimise the electoral processes nor validate the election results, its team would observe and assess the legal framework and its implementation, campaign activities of candidates and political parties.
Ms Arena said this is the sixth time the European Union was sending observers to monitor elections and that its observations and recommendations are usually contained in its report after the elections.
“The 2019 election is very important for Nigeria to build on what was achieved in 2015. But we must state very clearly that we have no interest in seeing this or other candidates’ win,” she said.
“We are completely independent of EU delegations and we will assess Nigeria’s commitment to electoral laws and international best practices.”
Also speaking on the complaints by former president Olusegun Obasanjo about the capacity of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a free and fair election, Ms Arena said such accusations are not unexpected in a political atmosphere.
“But we will be cautious in our comments ahead of the elections and monitor the situation without bias,” she added.
She also said that her team had, within the last 48 hours of arrival, met with relevant stakeholders, including INEC, political parties, religious organisations, and security apparatuses, among others.
She added that the mission would be joined by a delegation of seven members of the European Parliament and diplomatic staff from EU member state embassies, as well as those from Norway, Switzerland, and Canada.
“While the 11 election specialists are in Abuja, the 40 long-term observers will observe in all the six geopolitical zones, meeting with as many people as possible,” she added.
In her contribution, the Deputy Chief Observer, Hannah Roberts, said part of the mandate of the mission is to consider the improvement recorded in the area of inclusivism, especially in connection with the arrangement for persons living with disabilities to be able to access polling booths.