Abuja – The Commonwealth Observer Group has commended Nigeria and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for successfully conducting Saturday’s presidential and national Assembly elections, saying it was peaceful and transparent.
Mr. Bakili Muluzi, a former Malawian President and Chairperson of the group, gave the commendation while briefing newsmen in Abuja.
Muluzi commended Nigerians and major stakeholders in the electoral process for demonstrating patience and maturity during the electoral process.
“Full credit for the peaceful conduct of the elections must go, most of all, to the people of Nigeria.
“The Commonwealth Observer Group would like to commend the staff of INEC and polling officials, the security services, domestic and other international observers for the dedication and commitment they displayed.
“We commend the contribution made by the National Youth Service Corps and tertiary students.
“These young men and women showed dedication, creativity and courage in helping to deliver a transparent electoral process,’’ he said.
He also commended INEC for the introduction of biometric Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) for the polls.
Muluzi said that the use of PVCs in the elections enhanced the integrity of the electoral process by ensuring that only eligible voters exercised their franchise on the election days.
He also said that the campaign by political parties was highly competitive and the closest fought contest since the return of democracy in 1999.
The chairman, however, expressed concern over low percentage of women candidates in the elections, and urged political parties to review the selection process to give more chances to women.
He expressed concern over ‘’biased and personality driven reports’’ by some domestic media.
According to him, in spite of the fact that the media gave the elections substantial coverage, some reports were not balanced.
The chief observer said that the group observed some irregularities with the electoral process in general.
“From reports, a substantial percentage of polling stations experienced delays in arrival of polling staff and electoral materials.
“Also majority of the polling units we visited were inadequately located and laid out,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, former Ghanaian President and Head, ECOWAS Mission, John Kuffor, said this while fielding questions from the State House correspondents after a visit to President Goodluck Jonathan.
On the visit to the president were the Leader of the Commonwealth Observer Mission and former Malawi President, Dr Basili Muluzi, as well as Dr Amos Sawyer, ex-Liberian President and AU Mission Leader.
The mission leaders commended the Nigerian electorate for the success achieved and urged that the tempo be maintained until after the declaration of the results by the Independent National Electoral Commission
“Now we have come to a point where we believe, from what we have seen, I am sure you heard yesterday some of us declared that the election had been peaceful, transparent and credible up to yesterday.
“We appreciate the process is not yet done till the results are declared and of course the aftermaths of the declaration.
‘But we have come this far and we needed to give an interim report to the authorities that mandated us to come; and to the world and to Nigerians in particular to let everybody know that so far Nigeria has been at peace with the process.
“So, we appeal to Nigeria to continue in this mood through the entire process so that at the end of the day the people of Nigeria will be satisfied with themselves that they used the process to give themselves the government they want, they deserve.
“That Nigeria succeeding  to hold redound not only to Nigerians but to West Africa, the whole of our continent we will all be made proud of the success here achieved by Nigerians for themselves and for all of us.’’ The former Ghanain President said the mission observed the elections in all parts of the country and the interim report was to let the world to know that the process was peaceful in the country.
He further gave kudos to President Goodluck Jonathan for creating the appropriate environment for the peaceful polls.
“At this point, some of us must go back to our homes and we couldn’t go without coming to the state house here to pay our respect to the President, his vice, for the good work they have done.
“Because it is under their watch that this peaceful, transparent and credible election has been happening.
“Naturally they should be congratulated for the work done so far.’’
He also commended the Nigerian electorate for their conduct so far and urged the people to maintain the peace.
He said as the mission leaders were departing they were leaving “the rest of our observer teams behind to see through the entire process, hopefully to very successful conclusions so they make the final report to the world.’’
The International Republican Institute (IRI) has commended the high level of citizens’ participation and the transparent conduct of the presidential and National Assembly elections.
Constance Newman, the Leader of the Election Observation Mission and former Assistant Secretary of African Affairs, gave the commendation while briefing newsmen in Abuja.
She said that while there were flaws in the conduct of the election, it was a transparent process, with Nigerian citizens protecting their voting mandate.
She said that in spite of the delay in the arrival of election materials in some parts of the country, voters waited patiently.
She lauded their resilience and determination to ensure that the election process was viable.
“We want to praise the determination of the Nigerian voters to see the process through to the end.
“From the accrediting process to the vote count, even if it meant returning to their polling units the next day to repeat the polling process.
“The elderly, women with their children and people with disabilities moved immediately to the front of the lines during vote count,’’ she said.
Newman equally extolled the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the military and other security agencies for their role in ensuring free, fair, credible and peaceful elections.