With less than five days to the presidential elections in Nigeria, the commonwealth observer mission to Nigeria on Monday met with the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu to ascertain the preparedness of the electoral umpire.

The leader of the Mission and former President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki said the meeting was aimed at getting reports from INEC on its readiness for the conduct of the 2023 general election.

He said that the Mission will at the end of the election, write its report based on their experience in the conduct of the election.

Mbeki pointed out that Nigeria is a very important country for the commonwealth, adding that the delegation is hopeful for a free, fair and credible election.

“We’ve got here with the full complement of the chairperson of the commonwealth.

“We were telling the media this morning that this is the seventh election of Nigeria that we have observed.

“Nigeria is a very important country. The social impact on itself affects the social impact of the commonwealth of the continent. So it’s always very, very important that the Commonwealth would come to be with you as you hold this important election and to observe the elections.

“But of course, we come very hopeful and very confident that we will have a successful, peaceful, inclusive elections that at the end, hopefully there’ll be no problem, but that depends on yourself, the chairperson and honourable members of INEC and many, many other people around the country who constitute your team, a very sizable team of people.

“So we’ve come here essentially, therefore, Mr. Chairperson to listen to understand as much as we can, your own views in terms of the preparation for the elections and anything and everything else concerning the elections that falls within the limit of the INEC. That understanding on our part as observers is important because in the end, we will make a statement about the elections.

“But even more important, make recommendations about whatever we take in terms of this elections, therefore, as comprehensive and accurate picture as possible about the elections becomes important. And INEC, being a central player in that process is very, very critical that we should listen very carefully to what INEC says about the elections.”

Speaking, the INEC boss, Yakubu reiterated the Commission’s commitment in ensuring a free, fair and credible electoral process.

He noted that some of the recommendations in the past have led to improvement in Nigeria’s electoral conduct.

He said, “As Thabo Mbeki has said, the 2023 general election is the seventh successive general election of Nigeria since the restoration of democracy in 1999 and this is the longest period we had electoral democracy. We have a voter population of 93 million.

“93 million means that we have 16.7 million more voters than the other 14 countries in West Africa. So each time Nigeria goes to polls, it is like the Commonwealth of West Africa and beyond voting because of the sheer size of elections in Nigeria.

“We have benefited from your previous election observation, so many innovations introduced over time benefited from your observation. We don’t take your observations lightly and your recommendations that require administrative action by the Commission will be implemented.

“We’ll engage with the National Assembly to provide the necessary legislation and those that require an amendment to the Constitution, we’ll also liaise with the National assembly.

“We don’t have a candidate in the election. The choice of who becomes president or whatever in the election is entirely committed to free, credible and inclusive elections.”

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