The European Union (EU) yesterday said it had spent over N44 billion on elections matters in Nigeria since the country’s return to civil rule.
EU’s Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ketil Karisen, who stated this during the launch of its project on Democratic Governance support in Nigeria, held at the Transcorp Hilton Hotels, Abuja, added that the European body had offered about N44 billion worth of support to democracy, building institutions and engagement of key stakeholders in Nigeria since 1999.
The EU also promised more development partnership towards deepening democratic governance in Nigeria as the 2019 general elections approaches.
The launch of the EU-SDGN project, the envoy explained, was aimed at helping to improve the quality of electoral administration in Nigeria; supporting the National Assembly to effectively discharge its legislative functions in compliance with democratic principles and standards, and supporting political parties to enthrone internal democracy in the country.
Another objective of the project, according to Ambassador Karisen, was to help promote accurate and ethical media coverage, including radio and social media, as well as engage the civil society organisations to contribute towards enhancing the electoral process.
“Ahead of the 2019 general elections, Nigeria is at a very pivotal moment that allows the country to take important steps towards improving the electoral processes and the EU will continue to partner with the government and the civil society alike with a view to enhancing the quality and participation of Nigerians in these very important processes,” the ambassador stated.
It will be recalled that the United Nation’s Needs Assessment team led by the Representative of the UN Secretary General, Mr. Serge Gakwandi Kubwiana, recently visited INEC to discuss areas of support for the Commission ahead of the 2019 general elections
INEC chairman, Professor Yakubu, noted that the EU and other development partners had made notable contributions in supporting INEC to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the Commission. “The EU-SDGN support programme 2014-2020, funded through the 11th European Development Fund, is aimed at consolidating democracy in Nigeria,” the INEC boss said.
Prof Yakubu observed that although the basic indicators for the project derive from the recommendations of the EU election Observation Mission Report on the 2015 general elections, several national stakeholders made significant input to the formulation.
“The strategic areas of intervention in the project, including the support to INEC, were therefore carefully developed in close consultation and collaboration with all relevant election stakeholders”, he explained.
Professor Yakubu who acknowledged the support and confidence from Nigerians and the International community reposed on the Commission to improve the electoral process, expressed delight that the dedication of the Commission towards entrenching democracy was paying off as INEC had become a reference point to Election Management Bodies in Africa and was open to support other countries develop their own systems.
The INEC chairman said: “The 2015 general elections was really a turning point not just for Nigeria, but for Africa, and we have been receiving a number of delegations from so many countries in Africa asking to come and understudy Nigeria’s INEC.”
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