The National Democratic Institute, NDI, and the International Republican Institute, IRI, on Friday, in Abuja, said that despite some gains in the electoral process, the absence of legal framework, delayed budget, vote buying and insecurity are real threat to the 2019 general elections.
At a media briefing, the NDI/IRI Pre-Election Assessment Mission team to Nigeria said their findings conducted from September 19 to September 28, as a follow-up to their first assessment mission in July 2018, shows that 2019 is pregnant with a lot of expectancies.
Mvemba Dizolele, a Professorial Lecturer at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, though from the Democratic Republic of Congo, said the delegation were in Osun State to monitor the recent off-cycle governorship election and visited several polling units in Osogbo, Ilesa, Ede, and Ofatedo on voting day to witness the conduct of the election within the framework of preparing for the 2019 general elections.
He further said, “The delegation conducted its activities in accordance with the laws of Nigeria and the Declarations of Principles for International Election Observations, which was launched in 2005 at the United Nations.
“Nigeria’s 2019 elections will be an important step for the country’s democracy. If successful, the elections would consolidate democratic gains achieved in the last two decades since the transition from military to civilian democratic rule. The elections are also expected to be closely competed among the major political parties”.
Dizolele commended the many positive developments recorded since the 2015 elections that enhance the electoral environment in the country.
He however listed delays in finalising legal framework for the 2019 elections, delayed release of funds for the 2019 elections, security threats, vote buying, barriers to internal party democracy; youth, person with disabilities and women’s participation in the electoral process and incitement to violence as threat to the elections.
His words, “Despite the improvements, the delegation noted challenges that if left unaddressed, could limit the ability of Nigerians to experience a fully participatory and credible process. With 140 days left before the elections, there is need to urgently address these issues”.
The delegation met with array of election stakeholders, including the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), political party and religious leaders, civil society representatives, security forces, academics, and representatives of the international community.
Others on the delegation are Robert Benjamin, Senior Associate and Regional Director for Central and East Europe, NDI (USA); Sarah Jegede-Toe, Co-Chair, Liberia National Elections Commission (Liberia); Anna Jones, National Network Coordinator, WANEP-The Gambia (The Gambia); and John Tomaszewski, Africa Director, IRI (USA).