INEC Asks Election Observers to Submit Reports

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Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu

Chuks Okocha in Abuja

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has decried the non-submission of reports from the civil society groups that monitored the last general election in the country.

In his address yesterday at the review session of the last general election, the INEC chairman said that a critical component of the requirements for accreditation of observers is the submission of reports and recommendations in the format provided for in Chapter 5 of the commission’s guidelines for election observation.

“So far, less than 50 domestic and foreign observer groups have submitted their reports. More specifically, only 42 domestic observer groups have submitted their reports representing only 26 per cent of the 120 accredited groups. “The commission wishes to appeal to all accredited observers (domestic and foreign) to submit their reports in earnest so that we can aggregate their cumulative recommendations in our ongoing evaluation of the 2019 general election,” stating that yesterday’s meeting was not a substitute to observers’ obligation under our guidelines.

Yakubu said that the objectives of the review session were primarily to exchange ideas, share experiences and examine new options by which the conduct of elections in Nigeria can be enhanced.

According to the INEC chairman, it was for this reason that the commission accredited observers for all the elections, whether general or off-season.

He explained that during the last 2019 general election, “a total of 159 groups were accredited as election observers -120 domestic and 39 foreign. Collectively, these groups deployed 73,562 observers – 71,256 domestic and 2,306 foreign.

“The breakdown of the accredited observers by gender shows that out of the 71,256 domestic observers deployed to the field, 51,320 (72 per cent) are male while 19,936 (28 per cent) are female. For foreign observers, out of 2,306 persons deployed, 1,711 (74 per cent) are male while 595 (26 per cent) are female.

“A very important dimension to election observation is the effective participation and deployment of observers representing persons living with disabilities. Nigeria is the first country in Africa to accredit PWDs as election observers in their own right. I want to place on record our appreciation and pledge for continuous support to Inclusive Friends, the Albino Foundation and all other organisations representing persons living with disabilities,” Yakubu explained.

The INEC chairman who commended the partnership between the commission and the civil society groups said, “as a result, our work on voter education and enlightenment has intensified; inclusivity mechanisms for women, youths, Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) have expanded; technology has been deployed for registration and accreditation of voters and the confirmation of registration status; new approaches to the training and deployment of ad-hoc election personnel have been introduced; robust conversations on the reform of the electoral legal framework have been undertaken; and online incident reporting platforms have helped in the prompt resolution of critical challenges, including the easy identification and location of polling units by voters in the 2019 general election”.

“The collaboration with CSOs and other stakeholders is key to the collective effort to reform the electoral process. I want to reassure you that this collaboration will continue”, he assured the civil society groups.

On the way forward in subsequent elections, the INEC said that as an open forum for CSOs, the Commission has formulated three main areas of focus for discussion at this meeting intended to:

“Identify successes in the 2019 general election with a view to consolidating and sustaining them;