from EMEKA OKONKWO in Abuja, Nigeria
ABUJA, (CAJ News) – THE upcoming elections in Nigeria will be Africa’s largest democratic exercise whose outcome will be significant not only for Nigeria but the entire continent.
This is according to the Chairperson of the Commonwealth Observer Group to Nigeria, Thabo Mbeki, as he urged the country’s political parties, candidates and their supporters to play their part in ensuring peaceful, transparent and credible elections on Saturday.
“Therefore, we urge all stakeholders in Nigeria to uphold their commitment to ensure a peaceful and inclusive election in which the people of Nigeria are able to freely exercise their right to vote, with the fundamental freedoms of expression, association and assembly fully respected,” he said.
Mbeki, the former South African president, explained the Commonwealth Observer Group’s mandate is to observe and assess the pre-election period, activities on polling day and the post-election period.
Throughout, the group will consider all factors relating to the credibility of the electoral process and assess whether the elections are conducted according to the standards for democratic elections to which Nigeria has committed itself.
“As we undertake this assessment and conduct our duties, we will be objective, independent and impartial,” Mbeki assured.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, estimated at 219 million people, has a history of violent and disputed polls.
The atmosphere leading up to this year’s election has tense, coming at a time the country faces cash and fuel scarcity.
Violence has been prevalent.
This year’s poll is set to be the closest fought with the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and its main rival and former governing party, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) facing a stiff challenge from the Labour Party (LP) and New Nigeria People’s Party (NNNP).
Over 93,4 million Nigerians are registered.
– CAJ News