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No Confidence in Nigeria’s April Elections, EU Observers Say

European Union (EU) observers said Thursday they have no confidence in the April elections which made Alhaji Umaru Yar’adua president of Nigeria. Releasing an interim report in the capital, Abuja, the observers said the lack of transparency, fraud, and intimidation witnessed during the elections is detrimental to the development of Nigeria’s young democracy. They were also critical of the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) for what they describe as massive administrative failure during the elections. But the chairman of INEC also accused the EU observer team of being insensitive to the socio-cultural background of Nigeria. Losing presidential candidates, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and General Muhammadu Buhari are contesting the elections before a tribunal set up to adjudicate election disputes.

Kabir Mato is a political science lecturer at the University of Abuja. From the capital, he tells reporter Peter Clottey that the EU observers report is a true reflection of what transpired during the April elections.

“I think the report of the European Commission observer mission of the last April elections was more or less a perfect reflection of the tragedies that Nigerians faced in the hands of the electoral commission, and in the hand of their government, at a very crucial period in our history when our rights, our votes were supposed to count. Unfortunately, the entire nation was emasculated by a rather brazen and dictatorial ruling class that decided to determine what pattern of government or who succeeded it,” Mato said.

He described the reaction of Professor Iwu, chairman of the electoral commission towards the EU report as very regrettable.

“That’s the tragedy of Africa’s ruling class. Each time they infract on the fundamental human rights, or each time they fall far below the minimum standard that is required of human civilization, they turn the other way and begin to claim the issue of sovereignty. So what Maurice Iwu said, I’m concerned was the ranting of more or less a caged eagle,” he noted.

Mato said he is disappointed that the chairman of the electoral commission let all Nigerians down by overseeing what he called a rather flawed election, which is being hotly contested in the newly established elections tribunals.

“A professor that is supposed to be distinguished, who was entrusted with the responsibility of conducting a free and fair elections, but unfortunately, became a victim of what I would preferably call the tragedies of third world for TV joy element. He is confused and he tries to give meanings to so many rascalities and excuse my language, stupidities that he did during the elections. And more or less Professor Iwu did not protect and preserve the independence of the electoral agency as was constitutionally enshrined,” Mato said.

He reiterated what he called the rather awkward situation Nigerians find themselves in regarding the elections, adding that President Yar’adua’s move to set up a panel to reform the electoral system is not an antidote to the problems of the electoral system.

“Well, you see Nigeria as it is currently in my opinion is facing a catch twenty-two situation, head or tail we lose. The fact of the matter is that a colossal infringement that was witnessed by Nigerians and the international community did occur in April. And we have a government in place that was falsely commissioned by the government that just left. So politically speaking, we have a government that Nigerians do not simply care about, but legally speaking, this government has already been constituted. And of course minding the fact that by this very serious legitimacy crisis that they face, it would appear that there is this inept feeling on his part that by either means to ensure that we try to legitimize our existence by making sure that we correct those fundamental problems that perhaps brought us to power,” he pointed out.

Mato said the chairman of a Christian organization in Nigeria has added his voice calling for a re-run of the April election.

“Not only General Buhari or former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, but also the recent position by the Catholic Archbishop of Nigeria requesting the government to conduct a fresh elections, is also a vindication of the fact that the election was a colossal failure. So the report of the European observer mission as far as I’m concerned is simply an affirmation of the reckless scandal that took place in April that Nigerians today call elections,” Mato said.