By Abimbola Ogunnaike
Ahead of 2023 elections kick starting with presidential poll Saturday, 25 February, 2023, the Commonwealth Observer Group (COG) has called on political parties, candidates and their supporters to play their part in ensuring peaceful and credible elections.
The delegation leader of the observation mission, Thabo Mbeki, made the call during a at a press conference in Abuja on Monday, 20 February, 2023.
Mbeki, a former President of South Africa, insisted that Nigerians can freely vote during the presidential and national assembly polls on Saturday, 25 February, 2023.
While stating that the elections will be Africa’s largest democratic exercise, Mbeki added that the outcomes will be significant for Nigeria and the entire continent.
The delegation leader, who advised all stakeholders to uphold their commitment to ensuring a transparent and inclusive election, said the Commonwealth wants citizens to be “able to freely exercise their right to vote, with the fundamental freedoms of expression, association and assembly fully respected”.
Mbeki said the group’s mandate is to observe and assess the pre-election period, activities on polling day and the post-election period.
According to him, the team will consider all factors relating to the credibility of the electoral process and assess whether the elections are conducted according to the standards.
“As we undertake this assessment and conduct our duties, we will be objective, independent and impartial,” Mbeki added, stating that the mission will receive briefings from the electoral authorities, parties, the media and civil society groups representing women, youth and people with disabilities.
An estimated 93.4 million registered voters will have the right to cast ballots for presidential and national assembly candidates in 176,846 polling units across Nigeria as from next Saturday.