Foreign observers in the country to monitor the 2019 elections Saturday vowed to remain in Nigeria until the end of the voting process.Hundreds of foreigners are serving as election observers in various states across the country with many of them saying INEC’s decision to reschedule the dates is ‘shocking.’
Speaking with Per Second News some observers who came from places and political backgrounds that are perceived unfriendly to the federal government said they can only speak under the condition of anonymity.
While those from countries with robust relations with the government said they were not in the country “to create an international stamp of approval for the votes, but to support a process they believe would be credible, free and fair.
Most of the foreign observers said they are not leaving until the final whistle is blown.
MINDS OF LOCAL OBSERVERS
Cynthia Mbamalu, Project Director, Watching The Vote, YIAGA: It is quite sad and disappointing that the election had to be postponed just hours to the scheduled time for the opening of polls for the Presidential and National Assembly elections. While I understand that INEC has a duty to ensure all its plans are properly implemented to enable eligible voters vote I am also worried that it took the INEC this long to realise it could not address the challenges to proceed with the election. As a Nigerian, I have a lot of questions to ask because we had an Election timetable that was released over a year ago with the plans highlighted, yet we had a very delayed approval of the budget for the election by both the National Assembly and Executive. This postponement would have been avoided and Nigerians deserve better accountability. Citizens and stakeholders were assured just days ago by INEC during the stakeholders meeting that everything was on course with different stakeholders making plans and investing resources in this election. While I support INECs decision to postpone because what is important is that eligible voters are able to vote in all parts of the country but I recommend for a more open conversation of where we are from INEC, we also need a detailed report on the postponement. It will also be important for INEC to inspire confidence in the people and stakeholders. Finally, Nigerians should not relent but should get ready to vote in even larger numbers on the 23rd of February and 9th of March 2019. Elections is about Nigeria and we need voters to come out in their numbers to vote for the candidate of their choice.
Uchechi Chuta, Observer at Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Foundation: It is really disheartening as millions of Nigerians were ready to cast their votes. It’s also a personal logistics problem for people who had to travel great distances to either observe or vote. Confidence has been lost in INEC and the government of the day but they have the unique opportunity to redeem themselves on the 23rd February. Nigeria is a growing democracy and so we shall take this as the pangs of growth.
Ayoka Ebere, NYSC data clerk: This is inhuman, what INEC did was inconsiderate at all. Leaving people stranded for more than 15 hours, hungry and tired is not a good thing at all.
Amina Usman, intended voter: I’m very disappointed with INEC for this last minute move. Couldn’t they have told us what they told us in the middle of the night weeks ago? Why did they take this long? I am very unhappy about this and I see what they’re trying to do and they will not succeed. We will go out next week en mass and we will cast our votes.