By G9ija

The African Union (AU) Commission said it would deploy both short and long-term Election Observer Mission to monitor 2019 general elections in Nigeria.

The Commission Chairperson, Moussa Mahamat, disclosed this on Thursday when he led a delegation of the union to Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) office in Abuja.

Mahamat commended INEC for adopting and implementing the recommendations by the AU given during previous elections.

He said that in 2015 when Nigeria was to hold its general elections, African continent held its breath.

“But the seriousness with which Nigeria organized the elections and professionalism that Nigeria showed made the difference as the elections have been hailed in the continent and beyond.

“This time, I will like to inform you that the AU will be sending both short-term and long-term election observer mission in other to support you.

“Nigeria means the engine room and economic power of the African continent, anything that happened in Nigeria has an impact on the continent.

“I have seen in West Africa countries where Nigeria is supporting other countries in electoral processes and process of democracy in Togo, Guinea Bissau, Morocco and elsewhere. We are proud of you.

In his remarks, INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu commended AU for the deployment of observation mission for the 2015 general elections and its positive recommendations.

Yakubu said that the Commission had started the implementation of some of the recommendation by AU in the previous elections.

“We wish to assure you that INEC has and will continue to improve on the conduct of elections in Nigeria.

“For instance, we have taken into considerations some of your observations and recommendations directed to INEC in planning for the 2019 General Elections.

“Specifically, you recommended that INEC should improve on the overall planning and implementation of electoral operations with regard to voter registration and the issuance of the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs).

“In response, and for the first time in the history of elections in Nigeria, INEC conducted the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) from April 27, 2017, to March 31, 2018, during which some 14.5 million new voters were registered in addition to about 70 million.”

Yakubu said that the second observation raised by the AU was the review of the Election Day procedures to make them less cumbersome for voters by re-examining the system of separate accreditation and voting.

“I am happy to report that this has been implemented.”

Yakubu added that INEC had similarly responded to other recommendations that require an amendment to the legal framework by working closely with the National Assembly.

“Only this week, the National Assembly passed a bill amending the Electoral Act in addition to the alteration of five (5) sections of the Constitution dealing with elections.”

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