50-Member Strong EU Observers Set To Monitor General Elections

Mr Abdul-fatah Babatunde, the Acting Head of Lagos Operations receiveing the EU Observers at NAN Office on Tuesday in Lagos.

A 50-member strong European Observation Mission in Nigeria, 2023, will be deployed across the country to monitor the forthcoming general elections.

The observers, who will operate in 20 teams in various parts of the country, will also be complemented by some embassy staff of EU-member countries in the country for monitoring polling units.

Some members of the mission, who will operate in Lagos and are already in the country, shed light on the plans of the team during a  visit to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Lagos Operations, on Tuesday.

The team of two EU’s observers comprising Mr Marko Logar, Long Term Observer and Ms Agnieszka Gorna, Long Term Observer, told NAN they looked forward to international best practices in the forthcoming polls..

The elections begin in 11 days time with the Presidential election.

Logar said that some members of the team already in the country had been observing election campaigns and the preparations of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the elections.

According to him, the team has also been meeting critical stakeholders like Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Non Governmental Organisations and judiciary while also speaking with the media about activities ahead of the elections.

Logar said that the mission’s findings after the election would be presented by its Chief Observer.

He said that they would also present the preliminary and final report on the elections..

Also speaking, Gorna added that the team was asking a lot of questions from stakeholders, just like their colleagues deployed to other states were doing.

“We are not supporting any political party. We will be open to all comments and criticisms.

“We will like to be visible and transparent. We have nothing to hide,” she said.

On expectations, Gorna said,” Everything should be according to the law – the Electoral Law, following international practices.

According to him, the EU has 20 teams of observers in Nigeria and would also get more staff to monitor polling units.

“Mostly in this period, we are interested in the campaign of candidates and political parties because campaign is still ongoing.

“We have 20 teams in the country collecting information and each team is observing different states,” Gorna added.

She said that the mission was completely independent and had no limitations, adding that they were not supporting any political party but wishing every candidate good luck.

The observer added that the mission was trying to check information on social media because it was easy to put just anything out there.

“We need to be very careful about misinformation and disinformation. This, of course is the problem everywhere,” she said.

The members were received by Mr Abdul-fatah Babatunde, the Acting Head of Lagos Operations as well as other management staff and editors in Lagos.

Babatunde, who welcomed the team, said that NAN had a wide spread with offices in the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, foreign offices, 12 zonal offices and district offices.

The acting HLO, who noted that no media organisation had the reach of NAN, said that the agency had taken the forthcoming elections as a national assignment.

He said: “Everything that will make it a success is what we are after. We can assure you, we are giving good reportage of all the activities.

“We have been covering all the political parties to give everyone of them a voice. We extend equal coverage to all of them. We do not discriminate.

“We give all political parties equal chances to sell their candidates and manifestoes. We report events as we see it without any colouration.”

He urged the team to reach out to NAN at anytime they needed to, especially when releasing their reports.

Other editors present include Mr Folorunso Poroye, the Head of Editorial Department; Mr Oluwole Sogunle, Deputy Editor-in-Chief and Head, Metro Desk; Mr Joe Idika, Deputy Editor-in-Chief and Head, Science and Technology Desk; Mrs Ijeoma Popoola, Deputy Editor-in-Chief and Head of Judiciary Desk, and Mr Dianabasi Effiong, Deputy Editor-in-Chief and Head of Health Desk.

Others are Mrs Wunmi Ashafa, Head Economic Desk and Mr Kamal Oropo, Head Multimedia Desk. (NAN)