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INEC To Defaulting CSOs: No Observation Report, No Accreditation

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu (right) in a handshake with the Executive Director, Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA), Mrs Faith Nwadishi, at the first quarterly meeting with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) this year, held at the INEC Headquarters, Abuja on 20th March 2024.

Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) that were accredited to observe the 2023 General Election and subsequent off-cycle elections, but failed to submit their Observation Reports to the Commission will no longer be accredited to observe future elections.

 According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, submission of an Observation Report by an accredited observer after an election is not only mandatory, but also one of the conditions for eligibility to observe future elections.

Prof Yakubu, who spoke at the Commission’s first quarterly meeting with Civil Society Organisations, held in Abuja on 20th March 2024, also declared that the Commission would henceforth deny defaulting CSOs from observing future elections.

He said: “I want to reassure you that INEC will continue to partner with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs). We appreciate the observations and recommendations contained in your election observation reports. Some of the reforms and innovations introduced by the Commission over the years draw from your observation reports. However, while many of you have submitted your reports, some accredited observers are yet to do so for the general election, supplementary elections, off-cycle elections, bye-elections and re-run elections.

“May I therefore seize this opportunity to remind those that are yet to submit their observation reports that it is mandatory to do so, being one of the conditions for eligibility to observe future elections. Going forward, the Commission will operate strictly on the policy of No Observation Report, No Accreditation.

Prof. Mahmood Yakubu also urged the Civil Society Community to engage with Political Parties and monitor their primaries holding between 6th and 27th April 2024 to nominate candidates for the Ondo State Governorship election slated for 16th November this year. According to him, doing so will boost their advocacy for the inclusion of the disadvantaged and underrepresented groups for elective positions at all levels.

He said: “political parties will commence their primaries in the next two weeks. I urge Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to engage with political parties and observe their primaries just as you engage with INEC and deploy observers to the main election conducted by the Commission. By doing so, you will strengthen your advocacy for inclusivity for groups such as women, youths, and Persons with Disability (PwD) that are under-represented in elective offices at National and State levels.”

 Responding on behalf of the CSOs, the Executive Director, Sustainable Gender Action Initiative, Mufuliat Fijabi, commended INEC for its sustained partnership and collaboration with the Civil Society Community. She said: “It is important that we continue to work together as CSOs with the Election Management Body, considering the need to deepen democratic practice in Nigeria.”   

Mrs. Fijabi said the CSOs will work towards strengthening their engagement with political parties and observe their activities and primaries leading to the emergence of candidates and “most importantly, based on the fact there is a need for inclusive elections that truly represent the presentation of the people we have in Nigeria, especially the need for more women, youth, and Persons With Disabilities inclusion.”  

On the submission of Observation Mission reports, the CSO representative said: “We also take very seriously the fact that the Commission is still expecting reports from observation groups. I am quite optimistic that my colleagues here who have already started turning in their reports will expedite action to ensure that the reports are forwarded to the Commission.”