By Bukar Bolori
The European Union is committing €39 million towards Nigeria’s electoral process and democracy.
The programme tagged EU Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN) Phase II, is funded under the EU’s Neighbourhood Development and International Cooperation Instrument, over a five-year period.
This is a re-affirmation of EU’s commitment to supporting Nigeria’s electoral process and would be launched on Monday September 12.
According to a statement on Friday by EU, the programme is aimed at promoting transparent, inclusive and credible elections in Nigeria.
The statement added that the overall objective of the EU-SDGN is to foster a functioning pluralistic, inclusive, participatory and representative democracy in Nigeria, insisting that inclusive, participatory and transparent elections are a pre-requisite for a strong democracy. The statement quoted the Ambassador of the EU to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ms. Samuela Isopi to have said that: “Ahead of the 2023 General Election, Nigeria is at a pivotal moment that allows the country to take important steps to consolidate democracy and strengthen the electoral process. The European Union continues to partner with Nigeria in the on-going reform process with a view to strengthening the capacity to conduct well-managed elections and with ample participation of all Nigerians. For this to happen, all must contribute, from the key institutions to the political parties and candidates, from media to civil society.”
According to the statement, the project will be anchored in the priorities identified by the Nigerian government. It also builds on the lessons learned from the implementation of phase I of the programme (2017-2022), and the recommendations of the EU Election Observation Mission made after the 2019 General Election as well as those of the EU Election Follow-up Mission to Nigeria.
The project, according to the statement, will more specifically focus on six thematic areas of support including improving the quality of electoral administration in Nigeria; strengthening capacities for legislative and judicial reform in compliance with democratic principles and standards; enhancing Pluralism, internal democracy and equality of opportunity in the political parties and the political party system.
Others are empowering Media, including new media to promote fair and ethical coverage of the electoral process and combat hate speech and disinformation; enhancing participation of women, youth and other marginalized groups in the political process; and empowering civil society organisations and relevant agencies to demand greater transparency and accountability in the electoral and decision making process, and promote greater citizens’ participation.