Nigeria Elections Credible and Creditable - Commonwealth Observers

By The Commonwealth Secretariat, PRNE
Sunday, April 17, 2011

ABUJA, Nigeria, April 18, 2011 - The April 2011 National Assembly and Presidential elections in Nigeria
have 'discarded the notion that the country can only hold flawed elections'
Commonwealth Observers in the country have said.

Speaking at a media briefing in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, while giving
the interim findings of the team on 18 April 2011, the chair of the
Commonwealth Observer Group, former Botswana President Festus Mogae said:
"The April 2011 elections marked a genuine celebration of democracy in
Africa's most populous country and a key member of the Commonwealth.

"Previously held notions that Nigeria can only hold flawed elections are
now being discarded and this country can now shake off that stigma and redeem
its image. Notwithstanding the organisational deficiencies that resulted in
the 2 April National Assembly elections being aborted after they had started,
and in spite of persistent procedural inconsistencies and technical
shortcomings, the elections for the National Assembly and the Presidency were
both credible and creditable and reflected the will of the Nigerian people."

Mr Mogae added that: "The success of the electoral process must be
attributed in large measure to the respect and confidence enjoyed by the
Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), and in particular by its chairman,
Professor Attahiru Jega. In him, the nation was able to look up to a person
of deep integrity, transparency and commitment, who was determined to make
every Nigerian's vote count. His willingness to accept full responsibility
for the fiasco of 2 April, and his readiness to postpone the National
Assembly elections a second time in response to requests by the stakeholders,
helped Nigerians keep faith in INEC, which eventually did not let them down.

"We commend the contribution made by the National Youth Service Corps,
whose members worked as ad hoc INEC staff for the elections. These young
Nigerians, a large number of whom were women, showed dedication and courage
in helping to deliver a transparent electoral process, often in difficult
conditions. They are a source of pride and hope for Nigeria.

"Our appreciation goes also to the Nigerian security forces, drawn from
various services, whose strenuous and coordinated efforts ensured that the
elections were largely held in an atmosphere of peace and order.

"But credit for the success of the electoral process must go, most of
all, to the people of Nigeria themselves. Right from when we arrived in this
country we were struck by the popular mood of determination to realise
genuine democracy. We noted the deep-seated public frustration at the history
of deficient elections and the desire to make a new beginning. Across the
length and breadth of the country, the people of Nigeria demonstrated
exemplary dignity, responsibility and forbearance, waiting the entire day
peacefully and patiently under the hot sun, or in heavy rain, to exercise
their franchise. We salute them and wish them well as the custodians of their
hard-earned democracy."

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