As Nigerians continue the processes of collating and counting results across the 29 states that governorship and State Houses of Assembly Elections held over the Weekend, the National Democratic Institute and International Republican Institute (NDI/IRI) Observer Mission has decried the low representation of women in the Nigeria political space
In a joint briefing by the delegation led by NDI Senior Associate and Regional Director for Central and West Africa, DR Christopher Fomunyoh and IRI Regional Director For Africa, John Tomaszewski the group said thus far, the Nigerian government had not applied the 35% Affirmative Action principle included in the 2006 National Gender policy.
They further stated that “the National Assembly had repeatedly missed opportunities to adopt legislation that would support greater participation of women in politics, noting that a gender and equal opportunities bill has been before the National Assembly since 2010”.
The Mission which spoke on the context leading up to state level elections noted that gubernatorial elections are a better indicator of the strength of respective political parties within each locality as opposed to elections for offices at the federal level. It however observed that the absence of internal party democracy and the lack of effective mechanisms for resolving intra-party disputes contributed to highly contentious party primaries in 2018 which resulted in more than 600 pending court cases.
The Observer mission in its election day observations reported low voter participation, timely opening of polls and receipt of electoral materials in the areas they monitored, calm and procedural performance by Adhoc staff as well as gender balance among Adhoc election officers.
The group however said the delegation heard concerns expressed by reputable citizen observer groups about serious irregularities and violence at collation centers in many parts of the country. It reported that observers and party agents were chased or barred from collation centers, electoral offences and violence, kidnappings, overt buying in the form of distribution of cash and foods near polling units as well as over involvement of party agents in polling units.
The Mission in their recommendations called on the Executive Branch of government to expedite the adoption of comprehensive electoral reforms to lay the ground work for an improved electoral framework, to implement fully the recommendations of Nigeria –led reform initiatives such as the UWAIS commission (2008) and the Nnamani committee (2017)
It further called on the INEC to publish complete and detailed state level results as well as national results in a timely manner, conduct a comprehensive review of the conduct of the 2019 polls, review recommendations from credible domestic and international observer groups and enhance communication and data management between the state and national levels.
They urged the Electoral commission to reconsider the order and timing of general elections in Nigeria to ensure sufficient time for election preparations and to promote voter participation and engagement at both the grassroots and national levels
The NDI/IRI Observation mission is a 20 member international delegation deployed to all six geopolitical zones including political and civic leaders, election experts and regional specialists drawn from 11 countries across Africa, Europe and North America.