Chuks Okocha in Abuja
In sustenance of its determination to support the deepening of democracies in the African region, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has pledged to provide technical support to Republic of Chad just as the country prepares for parliamentary elections.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made the pledge when he received a delegation of senior officials from the Independent Electoral Commission of Chad (CENI), led by its Vice Chairman, Adama Mamadou Dijbert, over the weekend at the INEC Headquarters in Abuja.
The Chadian officials were in Abuja to appreciate the commission and Nigeria for deepening democracy in their country and solicit more support for the forthcoming parliamentary elections.
Yakubu noted that CENI was barely five-year-old, but commended the body for successfully conducting the country’s presidential election in 2016. He observed that the parliamentary elections in Chad was long overdue but pointed out that it was delayed for good reasons.
According to him, “The CENI in Chad is only five years old but you have successfully conducted the presidential election in 2016 and you are one of Nigeria’s important neighbours to the north and in the central African sub-region.
“We have taken note of what you have said particularly the long overdue parliamentary elections which should have been conducted in 2015, scheduled but postponed many times for good reasons, to enable the CENI prepare.”
He added: “Both at this meeting and in our private discussion in the office, you raised a number of issues and I want to respond as follows. The first issue is insecurity resulting in the displacement of citizens including voters. One area we can share experience with the Republic of Chad in this regard is to share with you our framework for IDP voting.
“The second area is in the registration of voters and the preparation for voters’ registers. We will share experience with you in this regard as well. We will also share experience with you in deepening stakeholder engagement, particularly with respect to political parties, civil society organisations, and the media. As you prepare for the parliamentary elections, one important area we will discuss is inclusivity for women, youths and persons with disabilities.”
“As for material assistance,” the INEC chairman said, “this is entirely a bilateral matter between the Chadian and the Nigerian governments and I’m happy that the man in-charge of our embassy in Chad is here. If there is anything we can do to facilitate the assistance, we will do so.”
Yakubu called for the setting up of two technical committees to facilitate a seamless process of experience sharing. He said: “Arising from this meeting, I want to propose that we set up two technical teams, from your own side and the side of INEC Nigeria. We will be very happy to welcome the team from Chad to come and understudy our processes and procedures in Nigeria and on your request we will also be happy to send a team of experts from Nigeria to see how we can further collaborate.”
“If there is anything of value that you think Nigeria can share with the Republic of Chad for the purpose of organising free, fair and credible elections, consider us your friends and brothers. We will support you in any way that we can,” the INEC chairman added.
Earlier in his remarks, Dijbert appreciated the INEC for the support to CENI in conducting 2016 presidential election.
He decried the challenge of insecurity faced by his country as a result of Boko Haram insurgency in the Lake Chad basin, which he said, has led to the closure of the borders with Libya, Sudan and the Central African Republic.
The CENI vice chairman, however, explained that the Chadian Armed Forces have been up to the task of addressing the issue.
Dijbert also decried the lack of support from other countries as well as from development partners and explained that so far only the European Union has pledged to support the electoral process in Chad.
“We have considered Nigeria as a brother country, that is why we have turned to you to seek for support for the organisation of elections in Chad,” he added.