Ahead of the February general elections, the Chief Observer for European Union Observation Mission Nigeria 2015 General Elections and a member of European parliament, Mr. Santiago Fisas Ayxela has said the general elections scheduled for next month will be a litmus test for the nation’s democracy.
Mr. Ayxela said this in Abuja while addressing newsmen on the role of the EU observation team during and after the elections, noting that the exercise is not only important for Nigeria and its neighbors but also for the European Union.
“The general elections scheduled for February 2015 are a crucial and challenging test for democracy in Nigeria. These are important not just for Nigeria and its nieghbouring countries, but also for the European Union”.
The Spanish born parliamentarian informed that over a total of 90 observers will be deployed by the team to monitor the entire process within a specified period of time.
“We will be looking at the entire process over an extended period with over 90 observers out on election day”.
He maintained that the team is observing on the invitation of the Nigerian authorities while maintaining that the team will assess the Presidential, National Assembly, Governorship and State Assembly elections in line with national law and international principles for elections contained in regional and universal law and standards.
Continuing, he confirmed that the team has already had advance analysts for the primary elections which he said passed relatively peacefully, but notwithstanding the fact that the system is problematic with restrictions on the right to stand and therefore reduced choice for voters on Election Day.
While admitting technical challenges with the election, he pointed at collection of voter cards, use of new technology with the card readers, and delays in the petitions process as major obstacles that may hinder the exercise.
The Chief Observer noted that there are concerns about voters being included, the fairness of the process, and the ability of tribunals and courts to provide remedy in cases of grievances.
He advised politicians and electorate against engaging in violence as it does not change results, stating that it is critical that the elections are fair, transparent and credible.
He concluded by saying that it is up to the institutions, political parties and the people of Nigeria to make the election a huge success.