The Transition Monitoring Group has described as disheartening, the dismissal of the European Union’s report on the 2023 elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Federal Government.
The EU had, in its report presented on June 27, said the 2023 election exposed enduring systemic weaknesses and therefore signalled a need for further legal and operational reforms to enhance transparency, inclusiveness and accountability.
However, the Federal Government on Sunday rejected the report, describing the conclusions of the EU Electoral Observer Mission as “jaundiced”.
In a statement on Monday, the Chairman of the TMG, Auwal Rasfanjani, said local observers and civil society groups working on election observation and democracy had also raised similar concerns about gaps in the electoral process in Nigeria.
“The recommendations by the European Union align with the views of many civil society groups and local observers. It is imperative that the government and INEC review those recommendations and work towards addressing the gaps in the electoral processes in order to make our electoral system more transparent, accountable and participatory to restore confidence in the process,” he said.
Rafsanjani also emphasised that it is only when the government genuinely ensures that free and fair elections hold that democracy and good governance can be consolidated and achieved in Nigeria.
“We urge President Bola Tinubu to take courage and admit to the shortcomings with the electoral process which is evident by the violence and several election petitions going on in the country and the reduction of Nigerian’s participation in the elections, he should emulate late President Umar Musa Yar’Adua who admitted that there were gaps in his election and committed to reform the electoral system. Therefore, TMG urges president Tinubu to ensure effective reform.
“The EU witnessed the election process and their report should not be ignored. It is disheartening to see that the government and INEC are disregarding the recommendations from the European Union who they invited to observe the elections.”
He also noted that the government and INEC may be sending the wrong message by disregarding both local election observers and the EU Election Report.
He said electoral misconduct should not be normalised, urging the government and INEC to work towards addressing electoral corruption and impunity.
“The EU Electoral Report and local elections observers report should not be dismissed, but rather, it should be looked into, and the necessary action should be taken to ensure free, fair, transparent and credible elections in Nigeria,” Rafsanjani added.