The European Union, EU, has re-affirmed its commitment to support Nigeria’s electoral process with a 26.5 million Euros grant.
In a report published by the Punch, the EU Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ketil Karlsen, made this known on Monday at the launch of the EU Support Programme to Democratic Governance in Nigeria, EU-SDGN.
The EU-SDGN support programme, was conceived under the National Indicative Programme 2014 – 2020 and funded through the 11th European Development Fund, 11th EDF.
It is aimed at consolidating democracy in Nigeria.
Although the basic indicators for the project derive from the recommendations of the EU Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) report on the 2015 General Elections, several national figures made significant input to its formulation.
Karlsen said that the electoral process is aimed at promoting transparent, inclusive and credible elections and would be funded over a period of five years.
“The overall objective of the EU-SDGN is to contribute to the reinforcement of democracy in Nigeria through building strong, effective and legitimate democratic institutions.
“Ahead of the 2019 general elections, Nigeria is at a pivotal moment that allows the country to take important steps to consolidate democracy and strengthen the electoral process.
“The EU continues to partner with Nigeria in the on-going reform process with a view to strengthening the capacity to conduct well-managed elections with ample participation of all Nigerians. For this to happen, all must contribute, from the key institutions to the political parties, candidates, media and civil society.’’
This project, according to Karlsen, would focus on areas identified by the Nigerian government as priority and would build on the recommendations of the EU Election Observation Mission, made after the 2015 elections as well as those of the EU Expert Identification Formulation Mission to Nigeria.
He said the programme would focus on five areas of support, including improved quality of electoral administration in Nigeria, effective discharge of legislative function in compliance with democratic principles and standards,enhanced pluralism, tolerance, internal democracy and equality of opportunity of political parties and fair, accurate and ethical coverage of the electoral process by the media.
Other area were women, youth and marginalised citizens, civil society orgainisations and relevant agencies responsible for enhancing the electoral process.
Vice-President of the European Centre for Electoral Support, Jose Pinto-teixeira, said that the programme would be implemented from 2017 to 2022.
“Our work revolves around building on the already notable resources and tools developed to safeguard the integrity of the electoral process in Nigeria.
“This programme is being launched, ahead of the 2019 elections knowing that for many stakeholders, including the electoral management bodies in Nigeria, elections are regular and continuous events given the many by-elections that have been taking place so far.’’
Pinto-teixeira said that the programme had five inter-connected components, comprising support to INEC, National Assembly, political parties, CSOs and the media.
Also speaking at the event was the INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, who said the inauguration of the programme was another demonstration of the EU’s commitment to the promotion of the rule of law, good governance and democracy in Nigeria.
INEC welcomed the support from the International Development Partners and promised it will continue to support its partnership with the European Centre for Electoral Support, ECES, which is responsible for implementing EU support to INEC.
Mr. Yakubu said for 2019 elections, INEC would be conducting elections in 1,558 constituencies nationwide made up of one presidential constituency, 29 governorship constituencies, 109 senatorial districts, 360 federal constituencies and 991 state constituencies and that it has registered 74 million voters so far.
This project which will be implemented from 2017-2022, according to the. Chairman coincides with the implementation timeframe of their Strategic Plan and Strategic Plan of Action 2017-2021.
The chairman extended his appreciation to the Ambassador, Ketil Karlsen, for the EU-SDGN Project noting its was a demonstration of EU’s commitment.
“This is yet another demonstration of EU’s enduring commitment to the promotion of the rule of law, good governance and democracy in Nigeria.”