By Dr. E. A. Foloki
International and local election observation has become an important mechanism for ensuring election integrity in countries undergoing a transition to democracy or in post-conflict societies international observation has also become a learning opportunity for national electoral administrators and election participants. It promotes bilateral exchanges of knowledge and information on electoral practices, sometimes leading to lasting cooperative relations.
Usually, international observation occurs when there are concerns about t the freeness or fairness of an election. For an international observation to be an effective detector and deterrent of integrity problems, it needs to be adapted to the type of electoral system and the election it is covering. An election in a post-conflict society requires a different kind of observation from an election in a country with electoral reforms.
Most international observers need aviation to take on a mission. The first question that arises is whether an electoral process must meet certain quality standards to be observed. Some organizations feel that an electoral process and the broader situation in-country must meet a minimum threshold before they will send an international observer. A periodic election by governments all over the world has become an important instrument for ensuring a smooth transfer of power from one administration to another. It is practiced in all world democracies. Even despotic regimes in the world are increasingly under pressure to emulate democracies that change Governments on a periodic basis. Elections have the advantage of bringing on board new hands, new ideas, and new programs into Government and avoiding a situation whereby a particular individual or set of individuals perpetuate himself or themselves in the office, to the detriment of other citizens.
Nigeria practices the Presidential system of Government which is domiciled by the United States of America. elections are held every 4 years to enable the citizen to usher into Governance, a new president, Governors, and a new set of Legislators through what is supposed to be free, fair, credible, and locally and internationally acceptable elections. Acceptability is a universal prerequisite for all national elections
throughout the world. It has the following advantages.
To ensure that observer missions are effective and reliable, several conditions must be met Adequate Time Period, Adequate Resources, Qualifies Observers, and Comprehensive coverage. International Observer’s role in maintaining election integrity Serious and professional international observation can help maintain election integrity in many ways: Deterring integrity problems, Detecting Integrity problems, holding a fragile process together, increasing the credibility and legitimacy of the process, developing the capacity of national observers, relation with national observers.
In Nigeria, elections at the state, national, and local government levels since the advent of democratic rule in 1999, have become a do or die afar amongst politicians. All our elections since 2003 up to date have been marred by a variety of issues or problems. These include assassinations of political enemies, general electoral violence during campaigns and actual voting, vote buying, voting by underage children, snatching of ballot boxes and running away with them by thugs employed by those contesting election, and massive thump printing of ballot papers in a secret hideout. Other problems include late arrival of election officers and electoral materials at polling booths, outright lack of accreditation of prospective voters, mal-functioning of card readers, the relevant machines used for accreditation, an extension of voting in some voting centers, actual postponement of elections thereby causing frustration and disillusionment amongst the voting population carrying out some sharp practices such as swapping of votes amongst candidates contesting elections, bribing of voters with material things like rice, money, etc to induce them to vote for a particular candidate. All these and more make peoples vote during elections, not to “count”.
It is because of all these irregularities that public-spirited Nigerians have come together and constituted them into the Election Monitoring Group which has been working in close collaboration with international election observer bodies, with a view to documenting the goings on during our Governorship, House of Assembly, House of Reps, Senate and local government elections. The reports of the domestic and international election observer groups are supposed to be well received by our government and the recommendations meticulously implemented so as to help improve future elections until such a time that we can attain a state of perfection or near state of perfection in our national elections, like the situation in U.S.A, Canada, Britain, and other advances democracies of the world.
Nigeria as a nation has not known peace following numerous cases of disputations over the general elections held in the country since the year 2003 up to date. After the last general election held early this year, 2019 there are 800 election petitions pending before the nation’s Court of Appeal. A breakdown shows that there are 415 petitions in the House of Assembly, 215 petitions in the House of representative, 105 petitions in the Senate, 65 petitions in the Governorship Elections, and at least 3 petitions over the Presidential Election result that brought President Muhammad Buhari back into power for a second term of 4 years. It is also on record that a total of 1,769 appeals over election results have been heard and determined in Nigeria by the Nation’s Court of Appeal up to date.
The essence of the local and foreign election observer groups, therefore, is to ensure free, fair, credible, and generally acceptable elections in Nigeria that will eliminate post-election Litigations and allow in-coming Governments voted into power to settle down quickly after each general election for good governance. The nation benefits tremendously from the patriotic services of these local and foreign election monitoring/observer bodies.
Dr. Foloki E.A
Ogun State, Nigeria
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