Michel Arrion
Ambassador Michel Arrion

Impressed with the conduct of the 2015 general elections, the European Union Ambassador to Nigeria, Ambassador Michel Arrion has commended the growing democratic culture in Nigeria noting that unlike several African countries, Nigeria did not have the problem of political leaders always wanting to over-stay their mandates.

He gave his approval rating during an interview with the Executive Producer of Urban and marketing Trends in Africa, ( a TV documentary), Mr. Robert Opara, in Abuja.

Ambassador Arrion who complimented the overall democratic quest in most African countries noted that the 2015 elections in Nigeria placed the country in good stead as the conduct passed for a well-organised poll.

He however expressed concern over the number of voters who participated in the exercise, noting that the process still lacked inclusivity.

According to him, “One has to understand that formal or institutional democracy is not enough and that credible elections means also that there are credible number of voters. This is also an issue for me, because in Nigeria for instance, what is missing is probably more inclusiveness in the number of voters. At the end of this relatively good process that took place last year, only about 20 million people voted”

He further canvassed for greater voters’ education in subsequent elections stressing that it was the awareness of voters that enable them to make informed choices at the polls.

“If you look at your methods, it may be an issue, but I want to insist on one thing – there is no democracy without education! It’s absolutely clear; if everybody can vote and if one man or one woman equals one vote, then those people must be in a position to decide, on the basis of a minimum criteria that they do understand.

“To proffer the answer, you must understand the question, so to understand the question, you have to be educated. So if 90% of the population is illiterate, how can you have genuine democracy? How can they really choose on relatively rational basis, on using their minds, their intelligence to vote?”, he queried.

Ambassador Arrien who explained that his mandate in Nigeria was to facilitate the works and functions of the various EU ambassadors in the country, stressed that unlike in the past, the EU had gone beyond a mere development agency to becoming a diplomatic mission determined to foster diplomatic co-operation between the EU and host countries.