The European Union Ambassador to Nigeria and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Mr. Ketil Karlsen, who is leading a group of international observers in monitoring the governorship election in Ekiti State, has described the exercise as a stepping stone on the road to the general elections in 2019.
In an interview with journalists in Ifaki-Ekiti, the hometown of former governor of Ekiti State, Segun Oni, Karlsen said the European Union wants to see continued consolidation of democracy in Nigeria.
He continued: “We have a number of diplomatic observers in Ekiti State today. Of course, we came together with colleagues from international community. So, this is a reflection of the huge engagement of the EU in supporting democratic governance in Nigeria.”
He explained that the EU has been sending observers to Nigeria to monitor elections since the 1999 general elections in the country, saying: “We have had observers here non-stop since the democratisation in 1999 general elections. So, this is an important day, a stepping stone on the road to the general elections in 2019.
“For us, democracy is the best, and the only way to secure development, to secure security and to make sure that there is a stable society,” adding that the EU was eager to see more democracies for the people, and democracies “for leaders that have only one thing in their minds, which is to find the best solution to the challenges that people face. So, this is what we hope to see today reflected in Ekiti.
“As the international community, we don’t have any preferred candidate, or any preferred party or ideology. Our only preference is the continued consolidation of democracy and hearing the voice of the people by the end of the day.
“So, this is what a lot of people behind me (electorate) have come out to say that they want to have a choice in selecting their leadership for the next four years in Ekiti and hopefully in that same spirit, we will see similar processes also moving on to the general elections in 2019.”