Monday, 3 March 2014

Welcome Address by Mr Abiodun Ajijola, Coordinator Election Monitor on the occasion of the formal launching of the 2015 Forum for Election Observers holding at Dennis Hotel, Wuse II Abuja on the 27th February, 2014.

It is with profound gratitude to Almighty God that I make this welcome address. I wish to recognize all dignitaries and speakers that have taken out of their busy schedules to grace this occasion. I also thank all participants who have put aside one thing or the other to attend this event. For all those who came from outside Abuja, I am especially grateful.  

As Nigeria prepares for its most critical election since Independence, stakeholders in and outside Nigeria have begun to express concerns. It is clear that making the 2015 General Elections free, fair and credible will be a challenging task at best. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has assured that it will be a good election albeit not a perfect one. It is clear that INEC cannot possibly ensure successful elections on its own. There is the need for all stakeholders to play their roles and together we can ensure Nigeria deepens irreversibly its democratic experience.

One of the key stakeholders in any election are election observers. It is unfortunate that there is not enough synergy amongst election observer groups in Nigeria. This is a situation that eventually limits the success of election observers since no one observer group can be entirely ubiquitous. ‘The 2015 Forum for Election Observers’ hopes to address this challenge.

The 2015 Forum for Election Observers is designed to bring together election observers and other stakeholders (voters, civil society organisations (CSOs), journalists, political parties, international donor organisations and electoral management bodies) in Nigeria’s electoral process in order to engage in discussions on diverse issues relating to election observation, which are pertinent to the successful execution of the 2015 general elections. The Forum is a non-partisan platform with its only intention being the impartial support of the efforts of achieving free, fair and credible elections in 2015.

The 2015 Forum for Election Observers will hold bi-monthly in Abuja, Federal Capital Territory. The meetings are expected to average around 4 hours per meeting for the first few months and are scheduled to hold on a date which will be announced at least one month in advance. Every two months, cogent topics will be discussed with a view to proffering solutions for enhancing election observation efforts for the 2015 General Elections. The 2015 Forum for Election Observers is convened by Election Monitor as the coordinating organisation.                                                                                  

Today we are launching this unique initiative with the belief that our efforts will ensure that adequate and proper observation of the 2015 general elections is achieved. For the sake of our nation and our unborn generations, it is pertinent that every stakeholder especially election observers support INEC to ensure that the 2015 General Elections are transparent, free, fair and credible.

Thank you all once again for attending this landmark event. I wish us all successful, impactful and fruitful deliberations. God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria. 

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