Former President of Tanzania to head Commonwealth Observer Group for Nigerian elections

The Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland, constituted the observer group following an invitation from Tanzania’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Members include politicians, diplomats and experts in law, human rights, gender and election administration from across the Commonwealth.

An advance group of observers was deployed to Nigeria on 29 January, while other members of the team are expected to arrive in Abuja on 8 February.

The Commonwealth has a long history of observing elections in member countries, in solidarity with electors as they choose their leaders, and in support of efforts to strengthen democracy and the rule of law in accordance with the values and principles of the Commonwealth Charter. The Commonwealth has observed the previous five elections in Nigeria, and I am pleased to be deploying so distinguished a group to again support the nation in its continuing journey of democratic development,rdquo; said Secretary-General Scotland.

The Commonwealth Observer Group’s mandate is to observe and consider factors affecting the credibility of the electoral process as a whole. It will assess whether the elections have been conducted in accordance with the standards for democratic elections to which Nigeria has committed itself, with reference to national legislation and relevant regional, Commonwealth and international commitments. Where appropriate, the Group can also make recommendations for the future strengthening of the electoral framework.

The Commonwealth Observer Group will consider the pre-election environment and election preparations. Members will be deployed to various regions of the country where they will observe the voting, vote-counting and results procedures.

The Group will submit its final report for consideration by the Commonwealth Secretary-General, and she will in turn share it with the Government of Nigeria, INEC and political parties before conveying it to all Commonwealth governments. It will then be made public.

The Group will be supported by Commonwealth Secretariat staff led by Ms Katalaina Sapolu, Senior Director of the Governance and Peace Directorate.

The Commonwealth Observer Group is composed of:

His Excellency Jakaya Kikwete, Chairperson

Former President

United Republic of Tanzania

Dr Lesley Clark

Gender Specialist


Mr Gary Dunn

Former Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General


Mr Omar Jallow


The Gambia

Dr Emmanuel Akwetey

Executive Director, Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG)


Mr Prosper Bani



Hon Emmanuel Bombande

Senior Mediation Adviser, United Nations


Dr Shahabuddin Yaqoob Quraishi

Former Chief Election Commissioner of India


Mr Orrette Fisher

Elections Consultant


Ms Jedidah Waruhiu

Commissioner, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights


Adv. Notemba Tjipueja


Electoral Commission


Dr Eric Kwa


Papua New Guinea

Mr Ernest Sagaga

Head, Human Rights amp; Safety

International Federation of Journalists


Mrs Marcella Samba-Sesay

Chairperson National Election Watch (NEW)

Sierra Leone

Ms Crystal Orderson

Regional Director, The Africa Report

South Africa

Ms Joy Napier

Commonwealth Youth amp; Human Rights Representative

St Kitts amp; Nevis

Ms Elizabeth Donnelly

Deputy Head amp; Research Fellow, Chatham House

United Kingdom

Ms Linda Duffield

Retired Diplomat

Former Chief Executive, Westminster Foundation for Democracy

United Kingdom

Mr Musa Mwenye

Former Attorney General


Source: Commonwealth Secretariat.