Shola Oyeyipo in Abuja
The Head of Mission, European Union (EU) observers, Maria Arena, has noted that there was late arrival of election materials and officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in some polling units she visited.
Though Arena, who addressed journalists at the Garki Post Office 018 polling unit, Abuja, said the EU observers were not prepared to comment on the general processes of the election, she noted that women participated more prominently in the process.
“We are not here to give any impression. We are European Observation Mission and we are working on a methodology for a long observation mission. We have been here since January. So, I am not here to give my own impression or personal observation. What we can say is the collective information coming from all over the country.
“We have seen that a lot of polling units were opened later than 8 o’clock in the morning. At least we can say that for the moment. We will have a preliminary report on February 25. We will have all the information at that time.
“Now, we are collecting information and we don’t want to give our impression now. What is important is that we have this election today. It is important for Nigerians. We have seen a lot of Nigerians being happy to be there to vote and to have the opportunity to vote for their country. And we have to give this message to Nigerian people to go and vote for their country,” she said.
On the quality of women participation in the election, Arena said: “It is important for us but it is important for Nigeria to have more introductions of women in the electoral process but I have seen a lot of women being involved, being engaged and being committed to defend their rights in the country. I just want to support them because it is very important to have this equality in this so huge country where women have very strong roles to play.”
Meanwhile, the lawmaker representing Suleja federal constituency, Niger State has expressed satisfaction over the prompt response of INEC to the issue of faulty card readers in his constituency.
Also speaking on the conduct of the election, the lawmaker, who spoke with THISDAY after casting his vote at his Hashmi 1 polling unit in Suleja said: “The election is very free, fair and violence-free. Actually, some of the card readers are faulty but it is not much. We appreciate the response of INEC because they came on time. The response time from INEC was very good.
“The turnout was very impressive. It is very good because there was awareness and with what we have put on ground, I think our electorate are happy with us.”
Another member of the House of Representatives representing Kuje/Gwagwalada/Kwali/Abaji federal constituency, who is the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Hon. Zakari Angulu, said INEC did a good job in the Saturday presidential and National Assembly elections.
He said incidences of malfunctioning card readers were quickly resolved by the INEC by adopting alternate manual process where necessary, saying: “I think perhaps that was why the process was quite smooth.”