By Isaac Aregbesola
The European Union (EU) has deployed a high level election observation mission to monitor the Nigeria’s general elections which begins with presidential on February 16.
Mr Federica Mogherini, High Representative of EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy; and Vice-President of the EU Commission, made the announcement in a statement on Friday in Abuja.
Mogherini said that EU had appointed Maria Arena as the Chief Observer of the EU Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) for the elections scheduled for Feb. 16 and March 2.
He said the deployment of the observation mission followed an invitation by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
He said the EU had consistently followed electoral processes and deployed an EOM to Nigeria’s general elections since 1999, reflecting its long-term commitment to supporting credible, transparent and inclusive elections in the country.
“As Africa’s largest economy and a key political and economic player in West Africa, Nigeria is an important partner for the EU.
“The EU is committed to supporting Nigeria’s path towards stronger democracy and further political stability, building on the 2015 General Elections.
“I am confident that the deployment of an EU EOM, under the leadership of Chief Observer Maria Arena, will contribute to an inclusive and transparent electoral process,’’ he said
He also disclosed that Election Observation Mission Core Team of 11 EU election analysts, had arrived Nigeria on Jan. 4, and would stay in the country until the completion of the electoral process.
He said that the Core Team would be joined by 40 long-term observers, who will be deployed across the country later this month.
“The European Union’s Election Observation Mission looks forward to cooperating with other international and domestic observation missions
“Shortly after both election days, the mission will issue preliminary statements during press conferences in Abuja.
“A final report, including recommendations for future electoral processes, will be presented at a later stage, after the finalisation of the electoral process,” he said.
The statement also quoted Arena as saying it is a great honour for him to lead this important Mission to Nigeria.
“I hope that our observation will provide meaningful contribution to the electoral and democratic process in Nigeria,” he said (NAN)