The Commonwealth Observer Group is due in Nigeria this week for the February/March elections in the country.

The 16-man team, which is headed by a former President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, may have audience with Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu and his team, the Inspector-General of Police and other security agencies.

The Presidential and National Assembly elections are scheduled for February 25 to be followed two weeks later by the Governorship and State Assembly polls.

Others in the Commonwealth Observer Group are the Deputy Chief Electoral Officer, Electoral and Boundaries Department, Barbados Ian Browne; a former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Botswana Hon. Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi; a Distinguished Professor, Fulbright scholar and expert in terrorism and security, Canada, Dr. Andrew Knight; a Human rights and gender expert, Fiji, Tara Chetty and the Executive Director, Institute for Democratic Governance, Ghana, Emmanuel Akwetey.

The list also includes a former United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel, Ghana, Dr. Mohamed Chambas; a former Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Heritage and Culture and former Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Kenya, Hon. Amina Mohamed; a legal and data analytics expert, Kenya Linda Bonyo; and the Chairperson, Lesotho Council of Non-Governmental Organisations, Lesotho, Seabata Motsamai.

The group comprises the Speaker, East African Legislative Assembly, Rwanda, Rt. Hon. Martin Ngoga; a former House of Assembly Speaker, former Minister for Women Affairs and former Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, Saint Lucia Hon. Sarah Flood-Beaubrun; Director, Brenthurst Foundation, South Africa, Dr. Gregory Mills; a journalist from Uganda, Josephine Karungi; the Director, Africa Programme, Chatham House, United Kingdom, Dr. Alex Vines; and a former Chief Electoral Officer, Zambia Electoral Commission, Zambia Kryticous Nshindano.

Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland, said in a statement that the organisation “remains a committed and reliable partner in Nigeria’s continuing journey towards peaceful democratic governance.”

She recalled how the Commonwealth has observed all the six general elections in the country since 1999, stressing that the deployment of Mbeki-led observer group is “a testament to the Commonwealth’s enduring support for the promotion of the culture, processes and institutions of democracy in Nigeria.”

She added: “In accordance with the values and principles of the Commonwealth Charter, the work of the group seeks to promote transparency, strengthen democracy and the rule of law, and protect the right of the people of Nigeria to participate in credible, transparent and inclusive elections to shape their society.

“This month’s elections hold immense significance not just for Nigeria but for the entire African continent and the wider democratic world.

“It is, therefore, essential that all stakeholders in Nigeria reaffirm their shared commitment to ensuring a peaceful election environment which is conducive to the free exercise of people’s franchise and in which fundamental freedoms and rights are respected.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *