Commonwealth election observers arrive in Nigeria and hold their first meeting with Inec

MEMBERS of the Commonwealth Election Observers Mission have arrived in Nigeria ahead of Saturday's presidential elections and immediately held a meeting with the Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec) in Abuja.


On Saturday February 16, Nigerians go to the polls to elect a president and members of the national Assembly, while two weeks later on March 2, elections will hold for governorship and state house of assembly positions. Over the last few weeks, the political temperature in the country has risen with opposition parties claiming that the government is planning to rig the elections.


In the race for the presidency, incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC), is in what many commentators see as a two-horse race with former vice president Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. Standing as the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Abubakar is presenting himself as a man who can grow the economy, create jobs and end insecurity.


President Buhari for his part, is standing as a man of integrity, saying he is the only one who can end corruption and bring about credible governance. As the race tightens, the PDP has accused the APC of planning to bring in voters from neighbouring countries to rig the elections, so have asked foreign election observers to be very vigilant.


Last week, the debate got more heated when Kaduna State governor Nasir El-Rufai, an APC stalwart and a key ally of President Buhari warned that any foreigners who intervened in the elections would be send home in body bags. This was seen as a direct threat to election observers and an attempt to intimidate them and prevent them from doing their jobs.


Nigeria's elections have always been supervised by monitors from the United Nations, European Union, Commonwealth, African Union and Economic Community of West African States. Tanzania's former president Dr Jakaya Kikwete, is leading the Commonwealth delegation and he and his team have already arrived in Nigeria.


This morning, Dr Kikwete and his delegation met with Inec chairman Professor Mahmood Yakubu and members of the commission at its Abuja offices. Other delegations are expected to arrive in Nigeria during the course of the week.