By Alex Enumah
Abuja — The European Union (EU) Thursday disclosed that it had committed more than a 100 million Euros in support of democratic processes in Nigeria since the return of democracy in 1999.
The assistance, which entails institutional and technical, according to the EU, was aimed at ensuring elections in the country are free, fair, credible and peaceful.
Head of the EU Delegation in Nigeria, Ketil Karlson, who disclosed this to journalists yesterday, shortly after a meeting of some EU ambassadors to Nigeria with a delegation of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), expressed confidence that INEC would conduct a free and credible election come 2019.
Karlson added that as part of its support to Nigeria’s democracy, the EU had just concluded tours of the six geopolitical zones, where it educated the youths and women on the essence of participating in the 2019 general elections.
“EU has been supporting INEC for a very long time; it is not something that we started doing just ahead of the elections. As a matter of fact, we have been providing institutional support and technically support to INEC for a very long time. And as some of you may have seen we have done something very innovative – doing a youth vote count campaign throughout the country; in all the six geopolitical zones including a number of celebrities.
“Through that we have literally reached million of youths and potential voters and educated them about the importance of their participation.
“But let me say the support of the EU doesn’t stop there; we have since 1999 provided more than 100 million Euros in support of democratic processes in Nigeria and I have a very good piece of news for everyone namely that our high representative and vice president has just now approved that we will have again a long time observation mission here next year,” he said.
He said the meeting with the INEC delegation led by its chairman afforded them to assess the level of preparation and further look for other areas of collaboration that would enhance the credibility of the 2019 general elections.
“Today we have had this opportunity to discuss inclusiveness, the importance of participation of people with disability, the importance of women and youth. “Sometimes, there are quick fixes – things that can be done without great investment to ensure that these people have better access to voting also”, he said.
Responding, INEC’s Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, stated that the commission is fully prepared to conduct an election that would be an improvement on previous election.
Responding to the question of how the issue of the yet to be signed Electoral Amendment Act would impact on the election, Yakubu noted that there will be no difference as the electoral umpire has been conducting itself within the ambit of the law.
“For us there is no legal lacuna as a law exist, but if it is accented to then we will abide by the provisions of the new law, but as we speak, there is no legal lacuna, we have taken the actions we have taken so far legitimately under the provisions of the law as it exist and nothing has changed,” he said.