African Union to send team of 90 observers to monitor Nigeria’s elections

The African Union Commission (AUC) has announced that it will send a team of 90 observers to Nigeria for the upcoming elections slated on Feb. 25.

The team will be led by former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, the AUC said in a statement issued late Tuesday.

The upcoming Nigerian presidential election is set to be a landmark moment for the country, with nearly 100 million people eligible to vote for a successor to President Muhammadu Buhari, who is stepping down after two terms in office.

According to the AUC, the observers have been drawn from its various member states and include representatives from election management bodies, independent experts, civil society organizations, youth, and women, among others.

The team's mission is to provide an accurate and impartial assessment of the electoral process, offer recommendations for the improvement of future elections, and demonstrate the union's solidarity and support for the consolidation of democracy, peace, stability, and development in Nigeria, the statement said.

The observers' team is expected to arrive in Nigeria ahead of the elections and be stationed across the country to monitor the electoral process.

The team will be tasked with observing the opening, voting, counting, and closing of polling stations, as well as any other relevant aspects of the electoral process, it said.

The AUC has emphasized the importance of free, fair, and transparent elections in the consolidation of democracy, peace, stability, and development on the African continent.

Multiple challenges ahead of elections

Earlier on Tuesday, Idayat Hassan, an elections and governance expert, told reporters in the capital Abuja that Nigeria’s current state of insecurity, a cash shortage due to a lack of newly designed Naira currency notes, and a struggling economy could lead to voter apathy and potentially create an environment ripe for electoral malpractice, according to the statement.

The multiple challenges ahead of the elections are worrying, she added.

"There are skirmishes here and there across the country, which is quite worrying. As of mid-January 2023, there have been more than 134 attacks on the Independence National Electoral Commission (INEC) facilities and personnel across the country," Hassan said.

Experts have warned that the country is currently grappling with a host of challenges, including widespread insecurity, a struggling economy, and a shortage of the newly designed Naira bank notes. These issues have dominated the political discourse in the run-up to the election, with candidates promising to address them in their campaigns.

However, the presence of the AUC observer team is viewed as a positive step toward ensuring a transparent and credible electoral process.

Source: Anadolu Agency