30 American Observers To Monitor Osun State Governorship Election
July 15, 2014 – 30 American Observers To Monitor Osun State Governorship Election
The United States Diplomatic Mission to Nigeria has declared its readiness to closely monitor the forthcoming August 9 governorship election in Osun State.
The US Consul General, Mr. Jeffrey Hawkins, said he would be leading a team of about 30 American observers to the state to monitor the elections.
The third highest ranking American foreign service officer in Nigeria stated that the Osun State governorship election was key to cementing the country’s democracy.
Hawkins spoke in Lagos on Monday during the opening session of a four-day workshop for press and public affairs officers of the Independent National Electoral Commission, drawn from different parts of the country.
He explained that the US government was happy with the successful conduct of the June 21 Ekiti governorship election and urged the INEC to embrace greater transparency as it moves to replicate the same feat in Osun.
Hawkins said, “I will be in Osun on election day. We will be deploying about 30 observers in similar magnitude with that of Ekiti. The Osun election is the last litmus indicator for future elections in Nigeria. Please be transparent with the process.
“We have a wide programme working with the INEC through the United States Agency for International Development and through various training sessions to support the work of INEC and we have a close collaboration with the INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, and others. And so there is a strong commitment from the US to democracy in Nigeria whether it is on a localised level or at the national level.”
He urged the INEC press and public affairs officers to be “maximally open and maximally transparent” while discharging their duties during elections.
According to him, the transparency of spokespersons of the commission, at both the local and federal level would go a long way in shaping how the electoral process would be judged by both Nigerians and the wider international community.
“Be honest with your immediate colleagues, journalists and the Nigerian public and demonstrate to the Nigerian people that the country is on the right track and that the democracy is moving forward.
“Besides, let the people know that they have an electoral commission that cares about honest results in the elections. It is a big challenge but if you can achieve that you would have done a good thing for the country and you would be great patriots for Nigeria,” he advised the participants of the workshop.
Speaking on the sidelines of the workshop, the INEC Public Affairs Officer, Osun State, Adenike Tadese, explained that the commission was 85 per cent ready for the election.
She stated that the leave of absence embarked upon by the Resident Electoral Commissioner of the commission in the state, Rufus Akeju, would not in any way affect the conduct of the election.
Tadese said, “We in INEC Osun State are 85 per cent prepared. We still have other things to put in place like the training of ad-hoc staff which would be done between July 29 and 31. The leave of absence which our Resident Electoral Commissioner, Akeju proceeded on would not affect us.
“The new REC standing in for him, Olusegun Agbaja, has since the assumption of office kicked off from where the former stopped and we have been having series of meetings to ensure a smooth and crisis free election.
“In fact, the meetings we used to have with all security agencies in the state have now moved from being on a monthly basis to a weekly forum chaired by the Osun State Commissioner of Police.”
[By Temitayo Famutimi PUNCH]