By Angela Atabo
The International Republican Institute (IRI) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI), on Thursday said they would deploy a joint Pre-Election Assessment Mission (PEAM) to assess preparations for the upcoming Nigerian general elections.
Ms Nkiru Okoro, the Local Media Consultant to the groups in a statement in Abuja, said that the high-level delegation would visit Nigeria from July.
Okoro said that the members of the delegation would meet with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), political parties, Civil Society Organiations (CSOs) and other stakeholders in Abuja.
This, she said was to assess election preparations and explore ways of fostering peaceful and credible polls in the country.
“ The delegation will also watch the voting process during the July 14 Ekiti state gubernatorial election.
“The PEAM will be led by Dr Pauline Baker, president emeritus of The Fund for Peace (USA).
“Nigeria’s 2015 general elections were widely hailed as a positive step in the country’s democratic development.
“Another set of credible polls in 2019 would further consolidate Nigeria’s democratic gains.”
According to Okoro, the team leader is the president emeritus of the U.S. based Fund for Peace and a renowned expert in Nigerian politics.
She said that the delegation would include Lauren Blanchard, a specialist in African Affairs, U.S. Congressional Research Service (USA), Christopher Fomunyoh, a senior associate and regional director for Central and West Africa, NDI (Cameroon).
Okoro said that others include Jan Surotchak, regional director for Europe, IRI (USA), and Terry Tselane, vice chairperson, Electoral Commission of South Africa (South Africa).
She said that the mission’s findings would be presented at a news conference in Abuja on July 20.
Okoro said that NDI and IRI would conduct a second pre-election assessment in September.
According to her, the groups will jointly deploy international observers to the Feb. 2019 presidential and legislative elections and the March 2019 gubernatorial and state assembly polls.
She added that IRI and NDI had organised more than 200 international election observation missions around the globe, earning a reputation for impartiality and professionalism.
The media consultant said that the IRI-NDI mission to Nigeria would conduct its activities in accordance with the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation and Code of Conduct adopted by the United Nations in 2005.
Okoro said that it would base its findings and recommendations on Nigerian laws and on international standards for elections.
She added that all activities would be conducted on a strictly nonpartisan basis and without interfering in the election process.