ABUJA, Nigeria, April 18, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The April 2011 National Assembly and Presidential elections in Nigeria have 'discarded the notion that the country can only hold flawed elections' Commonwealth Observers in the country have said.
Speaking at a media briefing in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, while giving the interim findings of the team on 18 April 2011, the chair of the Commonwealth Observer Group, former Botswana President Festus Mogae said: "The April 2011 elections marked a genuine celebration of democracy in Africa's most populous country and a key member of the Commonwealth.
"Previously held notions that Nigeria can only hold flawed elections are now being discarded and this country can now shake off that stigma and redeem its image. Notwithstanding the organisational deficiencies that resulted in the 2 April National Assembly elections being aborted after they had started, and in spite of persistent procedural inconsistencies and technical shortcomings, the elections for the National Assembly and the Presidency were both credible and creditable and reflected the will of the Nigerian people."
Mr Mogae added that: "The success of the electoral process must be attributed in large measure to the respect and confidence enjoyed by the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), and in particular by its chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega. In him, the nation was able to look up to a person of deep integrity, transparency and commitment, who was determined to make every Nigerian's vote count. His willingness to accept full responsibility for the fiasco of 2 April, and his readiness to postpone the National Assembly elections a second time in response to requests by the stakeholders, helped Nigerians keep faith in INEC, which eventually did not let them down.
"We commend the contribution made by the National Youth Service Corps, whose members worked as ad hoc INEC staff for the elections. These young Nigerians, a large number of whom were women, showed dedication and courage in helping to deliver a transparent electoral process, often in difficult conditions. They are a source of pride and hope for Nigeria.
"Our appreciation goes also to the Nigerian security forces, drawn from various services, whose strenuous and coordinated efforts ensured that the elections were largely held in an atmosphere of peace and order.
"But credit for the success of the electoral process must go, most of all, to the people of Nigeria themselves. Right from when we arrived in this country we were struck by the popular mood of determination to realise genuine democracy. We noted the deep-seated public frustration at the history of deficient elections and the desire to make a new beginning. Across the length and breadth of the country, the people of Nigeria demonstrated exemplary dignity, responsibility and forbearance, waiting the entire day peacefully and patiently under the hot sun, or in heavy rain, to exercise their franchise. We salute them and wish them well as the custodians of their hard-earned democracy."
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SOURCE The Commonwealth Secretariat