By Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA: Two global election watchdogs, the International Republican Institute IRI and the National Democratic Institute NDI have lamented the growing delay in finalizing the legal framework for the 2019 elections.
At a joint news briefing Friday in Abuja to signal the end of their second pre-election assessment mission to Nigeria, the groups said despite noticeable improvements in the electoral process, the delay in the release of funds for the general elections remained a pressing challenge.
The delegation said it has taken note of the consensus among political, civic and governmental stakeholders on proposed amendments to the Electoral Act 2010 which could improve the credibility an transparency of elections in 2019.
“After weeks of back and forth between the executive an legislative branches, the bill is currently with the National Assembly, which is slated to reconvene on October 9, 2018. However, delays in the amendment’s passage have many Nigerians questioning whether INEC will have enough time to implement these changes for the 2019 election”, they said.
They noted that Nigerian interlocutors expressed concerns regarding timely and sufficient funding for the 2019 elections. “INEC leadership has affirmed that it will be prepared for elections if the full budget is released when the National Assembly returns to session. Several electoral stakeholders in Nigeria underscored the need for timely logistical and operational preparations”, they added.
The second assessment delegation was comprised of Robert Benjamin, Senior Associate and Regional Director for Central and East Europe, NDI (USA); Mvemba Dizolele, Sarah Jegede-Toe, Anna Jones and John Tomaszewski, Africa Director, IRI, USA.
The two groups also raised concerns about the growing incidences of vote buying, security threats and hate speeches.