The European Union (EU) has advised Nigeria against taking its democracy for granted following setbacks recorded during the country’s 2019 general election.
Head of EU observer team to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ambassador Ketil Karlsen, said this on Monday in Abuja, while presenting Information Technology (IT) equipment to 75 members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).
Concise News reports that the EU Election Observation Mission had in a report stressed an urgent need for Nigeria to improve its electoral process and restore faith in the system.
It stated that a lack of transparency and inconsistent numbers during the collation of results by the country’s electoral body, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), cast a long shadow over the integrity of the 2019 elections.
But Karlsen said the union was impressed by the amazing work the corpse members did during the elections and hence its decision to support the NYSC with IT.
He said: “We wanted to make the process leading to the elections about the youths. More than 60 per cent of the population in Nigeria comprises of youths. A vast majority of the voters are youths. So, we wanted to maximise, to an extent possible, the engagement of youths in the elections and we did that by reaching out to them in the six geopolitical zones.
“Now, we have come on the other side of the elections; if you have watched the news, you would have seen that we have just been concluding the observation mission of the EU. We have observed every general election since 1999. Today is about telling everybody that whether in Europe or Africa – and certainly Nigeria – you should not take democracy for granted.
“Did we have perfect elections? Of course, not. Is there room for improvement? Of course, there is. But for that to happen, we need, above all, to see the participation of youths. That is what today’s event is all about.
Speaking at the event, Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said the commission realised that youth corps members were the most dedicated election duty workers.
He stressed that the commission was working on offering automatic employment to NYSC members who were exceptional during the elections.
Yakubu said: “Let me join the EU ambassador in appreciating particularly the youth corps members. There cannot be any election in Nigeria without the NYSC. I’ve said it before that youths corps members are the most dedicated, educated and patriotic election duty workers in Nigeria. It is not just the elections but electoral processes as well.”