Leading western democracies have come together to reiterate their commitment to the free and fair elections in 2019 inNigeria. This is part of a coterie of demands presented to the Independent National Electoral commission, INEC, Chairman, Mahmud Yakubu, when they met at INEC Office in Abuja wednesday. They insisted that INEC be independent and Neutral in carrying out their duties. The countries are representatives of the European Union, Britain and the United states.
During the meeting, the representative of American Embassy, David Young, cited the neutrality of the security services as of paramount importance.
“One of the concerns is about the neutrality of the security services.For us, it is very important that the security services provide for the election security, the safety of the process of the election in a way that does not interfere with people getting to the polls, civil society monitors, election observers who have access to observe the process freely. “This is something we feel very strong about and the neutrality of the security services is one of the very important issues for the credibility of the elections. I also want to say that we appreciate very much the important role the judiciary plays in Nigeria.
“As a country with the perfect three tiers of government with executive, legislative, and the judiciary branches, it is critically important that the executive does not interfere in the role of the judges and the judiciary.
“And it important that judiciary is safeguarded and respected.
“As regards the police, we know that a new Inspector General of Police was just appointed; the US Embassy looks forward to working closely with him. They will appreciate the leadership he will provide as IGP. We are looking forward to working with Nigeria as friends and partners.”
For the EU Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Kertil Karlsen, the missions were supporting none of the candidates or parties.
“What we are here to do as true partners of Nigeria, is to support your efforts in seeing a continuation and consolidation of the growth here.
“Nigeria showed to the global population in 2015 that the outcome of a credible election can prevail. That was a powerful message in terms of unity, opportunity and general economic development of the people of Nigeria. We want to also see this reinforced in 2019, and whoever is the successful candidate will also be a partner of our various countries,” he said.
In his own response, the INEC Chairman said that his commission is prepared for the elections.
“Today is exactly 30 days to the next general election. We are at the moment basically putting finishing touches to the preparation for the elections.
“All the heavy items for the elections have already been procured, additional ballot boxes, voting cubicles, replacement of Card Reader, the Permanent Voters Cards have all been delivered for collections by the citizens.
“Collections have been devolved to ward levels from today, January 16 to 21, the last day for collection at ward levels, and thereafter collection will continue till February 8 at various Local Government Areas.
“We have concluded and published the guidelines for the 2019 general elections and we have finalised the manual for the elections which will be used for training for the various categories of staff to be used for the elections.
“We are recruiting and will soon start training the ad hoc staff for the elections. We are good to go for the 2019 general elections.
“We are aware that the election is going to be an intense media event not only that the international community will intensely watch the processes as they have always done. I want to assure you that we will not fail the international community and the nation.
“We are aware that the long term EU Observation Mission is already in the country and I hosted the long time ECOWAS Observation Mission. The international community are already in Nigeria for the elections.
“The 2019 general elections will be credibly; we will jealously guard the process and ensure that the processes lead to what the whole Nigerians expect. It will be nothing but free, fair, and credible and only that will be good enough for the country.”