Federal Government has assured the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) deployed to monitor the forthcoming general elections that the exercise would be free, fair and credible.
Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, gave the assurance on Monday when the Chief Observer EU EOM to Nigeria for the 2019 General Elections, Maria Arena, paid him a courtesy visit in Abuja.
Onyeama said President Muhammadu Buhari would cooperate with the observers and would not let the international community down in the conduct of the elections.
He said Buhari had at different international fora given his words that he would do everything within his power to ensure free, fair and credible elections in the country.
“And, he is investing his whole reputation and everything on that. He has been in the receiving end of what we believe to have been unfair elections in the past and he does not want to have elections that can in anyway be criticised under his watch.
“So, he is particularly keen that everything should be done to ensure that they are really free, fair and credible,” he said.
According to him, Buhari will practice what he preaches being the Chairperson of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Authority of Heads of State and Government.
He noted that the president had intervened in various countries in West Africa to entrench democratically elected governments.
“Nigeria is very proud that the sub-region in every member state, has a democratically elected government.
“And we have gone to great length to ensure that is maintained.
“A couple of years ago when it looked as if there might be an exception in the Gambia, we were very keen and Mr President actually directed the efforts that led to the very quick restoration of the democratic process in that country and the expression of the will of the people,” he said.
While noting the security challenges that the country has been going through, the minister said that effort was being made to ensure that the elections take place in a secured environment.
He said government was putting everything in place to ensure that participants in the elections do so, feeling comfortable and in no way, intimidated.
He said that the President was sparing no resource to ensure that voters exercise their rights freely.
“I think that you really can be assured that as far as the President and his team governed, that we really are doing everything possible and we thank very much, the EU for sending this observer mission.
“We will put everything at your disposal so that you can very freely speak to whoever you want, go wherever you want and also make your comments, observations and we are very willing to take advice from our friends.
“And we have excellent relations with the EU and we thank you very much for all your cooperation and of course, for your concern,” he added.
The team leader said it was really important for EU to monitor the elections because Nigeria is really an important country to Europe.
Arena explained that she also had similar experiences within the West African sub-region having monitored elections in the Gambia and Liberia.
“We, of course, we are 40 long term observers in the country. They are deployed today in all the regions.
“So, I think it is important to have this covering all the regions because it is a very huge country and with specificity in the country, so it is important to be in all the regions,” Arena said. With reports by (NAN)