Former South African President, Thabo Mbeki, will lead a Commonwealth Observer Group to observe the upcoming general elections in Nigeria.
The 25 February election will see an estimated 93.4 million registered voters exercise their right to vote for presidential and national assembly candidates across 774 local government areas and 176,846 polling units.
The Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland, has constituted the group at the invitation of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission.
The Secretary-General has emphasized the significance of the elections not just for Nigeria but for the entire African continent and the wider democratic world. She also expressed her appreciation to President Mbeki for leading the group and to the other observers for their commitment to this important task.
The mandate of the group is to observe the election preparations, the polling process, counting, and results, as well as the overall electoral environment. The group will be independent and impartial and will make recommendations for the improvement of the electoral system in Nigeria, where appropriate.
Before their deployment to different parts of Nigeria, the group will have briefings with electoral authorities, political parties, law enforcement agencies, the media, and civil society groups.
The Commonwealth Observer Group is composed of 16 prominent individuals from around the Commonwealth, including politicians, diplomats, and experts in law, human rights, gender equality, and election administration.
The group will be in Nigeria from 18 February to 2 March and will be supported by a staff team from the Commonwealth Secretariat.
Upon completion of their assignment, the group will submit a report to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, which will be forwarded to the government of Nigeria, the Independent National Electoral Commission, political party leadership, and all Commonwealth governments. The report will be made public afterwards.
The decision came after a meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, and followed mounting criticism that millions of people have been unable to obtain replacements, putting business activity and livelihoods at risk.