Nigeria’s 2023 general elections were “largely peaceful” despite administrative and logistical hurdles at many polling units, Commonwealth observers said on Monday.
Chairperson of the Commonwealth Observer Group, Thabo Mbeki delivered his team’s preliminary assessment of the electoral process at a press conference on Monday in Abuja.
The former President of South Africa congratulated Nigerians for their “determination, patience and resilience displayed throughout the electoral process”.
Ahead of the final results, Mbeki encouraged citizens to exercise patience to allow the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and its staff to collate the results peacefully.
“We call on all those with grievances to address disputes through prescribed legal channels. The time now is for restraint and continued patience as we await the final results,” Mbeki said.
He hailed Nigerians’ commitment, despite the late arrival of election officials and materials at many polling units, technical issues with biometric identification machines, and delays with the live results transmission system.
Mbeki also praised the polling officials for conducting their duties diligently, while noting inconsistencies in procedures, particularly in the positioning of some polling booths which compromised the secrecy of the ballot.
The Head of Mission encouraged INEC to conduct a thorough post-election review of the electoral process to draw lessons and consider setting up appropriate mechanisms to implement the recommendations of observers.
The chairperson, however, noted an improvement with the enactment of a new Electoral Act in 2022, which gave the electoral commission more autonomy and legal backing.
Commonwealth observers were in Benue, Edo, Kano, Lagos, Ondo, Rivers and Sokoto states as well as the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
The group was constituted by the Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, at the invitation of INEC.
Before leaving Nigeria on March 2, the mission will complete its final report, setting out its recommendations, which will be submitted to Scotland.