By Anthony Ogbonna
The Commonwealth Observer Mission to Nigeria, led by former Tanzanian President, Dr Jakaya Kikwete, has said that it is in the country not to monitor but to only observe the elections, submit an interim report and go home.
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The Observer team gave the statement on Monday, 11 February 2019, when it visited the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, headquarters in Abuja.
According to the team, it also visited the commission to listen and be briefed on the preparedness of the commission to conduct the coming elections.
It said sometimes people often mistake it for election monitors but that it is only an observer team and not an election monitor.
According to the team, “We came here to observe not to monitor. Sometimes, people call us monitors but we just came here to observe the elections. We are at the commission today to listen to you, the commissioners, whatever you have to tell us in preparedness of the commission to conduct these elections.
“Then after that, we disperse, we deploy the commissioners to almost many places in the country. We cannot cover every place in the country. It’s a huge country.”
Earlier, Chairman of the commission, Prof Yakubu Mahmood, told the observer team that the commission appreciates the presence of the team in the Nigerian political space, noting that the commission adopted the simultaneous accreditation and voting method since 2016 from the recommendations made by the Commonwealth Observer Mission which observed the 2015 general election in Nigeria.
Yakubu recalled that the report of the 2015 Commonwealth Observer Mission contained 32 recommendations as well as identified institutions that should implement those recommendations.
According to him, “The last Commonwealth Observer Mission had recommended that we should abolish that system, that archaic system, that, as citizens or voters are accredited, they should be able to vote at the same time and we have implemented this recommendation way back in January 2016 when we conducted one of the governorship elections in this country.
“Since then, we have conducted 194 off season elections and all have been conducted on the basis of simultaneous accreditation and voting or what you call continuous accreditation and voting.
“It didn’t require an amendment to the electoral legal framework for the commission to continue with the system of accreditation and voting.
“For that reason, the commission used it’s powers under the electoral act to make Regulations and Guidelines. It’s now in regulations for the conduct of 2019 general elections. The method of voting will be continuous accreditation and voting.