By Akanimo Sampson
President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who is locked in a re-election battle with former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), appears to be yielding for pressure for a credible election next year.
The US International Republican Institute (IRI) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) have said that President Buhari told their delegation that he has warned security forces against partisanship.
Under Section 29 of the 2010 Electoral Act (as amended), the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has the authority to request for the deployment and assignment of security personnel for elections.
IRI is however, a premier international democracy-development organisation. They have performed high-impact work in more than 100 countries since 1983—in Africa, Asia, Eurasia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Middle East and North Africa—and currently the organisation has offices in more than 30 countries.
Similarly, NDI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organisation working to support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide through citizen participation, openness and accountability in government. Over the past 35 years, the organisation has conducted more than 150 election observation missions in 62 countries.
The two organisations are jointly urging INEC, security forces and politicians to ensure that the forthcoming national and state elections are free, fair and credible.
In a statement after conducting their third pre-election assessment mission as part of their joint observation of Nigeria’s 2019elections, the two US groups cautioned that interference in the election process by security forces, perceived or otherwise, could undermine confidence in the electoral process.
Specifically, INEC should urgently provide clarity on the voting, counting, and collation processes, the group said. They also said INEC and all other electoral stakeholders should increase communication with the public to enhance confidence in the election process and the commission’s independence.
The assessment delegation comprised: Linda Thomas-Greenfield (lead delegate), former Assistant Secretary for African Affairs; Lewis Lucke, former USAID senior official and Ambassador to the Kingdom of Swaziland; Dickson Omondi, NDI Kenya Resident Country Director; and John Tomaszewski, IRI Africa Regional Director.
President Buhari is being persistently attacked by the opposition PDP that has been alleging that the Nigerian leader is not willing to allow a free and fair election. However, there have been some worrisome instances where the security forces exhibited unprofessionalism during elections.