By Emma Emeozor

The United Nations (UN) has expressed anxiety over  preparations for the 2023 general elections in Nigeria.

The worry of the world body was among the issues discussed at a meeting in Abuja, yesterday, between the delegation of the UN Electoral Needs Assessment Mission and 18 political parties under the umbrella of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC).

Leader of the UN delegation and head of Mission, Serge Gakwandi Kubwimana, said the team was in Nigeria to interact with stakeholders and assess the level of preparation for the 2023 general election.

This, he said, would enable the UN electoral needs mission to identify areas to provide support to Nigeria.

Kubwimana, who drew attention to the problem of voter apathy noticed in previous elections in Nigeria,  said the delegation would confer with members of the National Assembly, security agencies and the political parties on the challenges envisaged.

He explained that the UN Electoral Needs Assessment Mission renders technical assistance by strengthening the capacity of relevant organs for the election. This is even as he said  Nigeria was quite experienced in electoral matters and had introduced some reforms in the electoral process.

Kubwimana said t the UN would always assist African countries in strengthening electoral processes in order to deepen democracy.

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“We are here as a mission in response to a request for electoral assistance by INEC chairperson and even going to governmental organisations elections being a high stake process and a matter of national sovereignty.”

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He said the team targets meeting with other key stakeholders,especially within the government, its institutions,  civil society  organisations and alike “to assess the overall context in which the elections will take place.

“Again, these not are specific to Nigeria, the UN is moving close to 60 countries currently and then in doing so, so assessed the needs and the areas where the UN could best provide some type of support.”

In its response, IPAC advocated the scrapping of state electoral commission.

Its National Chairman, Yabaji Sani also demanded the autonomy of the 774 local governments.

Represented by the National Secretary, Yusuf Dantalle, he said: “Primarily we are concerned with the scrapping of the State Independent Electoral Commission. So, we need you to send our message to the appropriate authority using their office to influence the lawmaking body in Nigeria to ensure we have an enabling environment for full participation of Nigerians in the electoral process. IPAC supports local government autonomy as the third tier of government closest to the people.”

IPAC assured that the body would address the problem of voter apathy by carrying out massive sensitisation, advocacy, enlightenment and mobilisation of the electorate at grassroots level across the country.

He called on the UN Mission to assist Nigeria in capacity building of political party leaders to equip them for transformational leadership and enhance parties’ internal recruitment process which will produce credible leaders with the people’s mandate to govern.

IPAC said it would counter the apathy by embarking on massive sensitisation, advocacy, enlightenment and mobilisation of the electorate at grassroots level across the country.