The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has urged the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to resuscitate the implementation of its Support to Democratic Empowerment (SDE) Phase 1, in Nigeria.

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made the call when he received the UNDP new Resident Representative to Nigeria, who visited the commission headquarters in Abuja.

SDE is aimed at enlightening and mobilising stakeholders to participate massively in the general elections.

The programme is also to conduct civic and voter education, as part of the media campaign, to sensitise and create awareness among the citizens for effective participation in the general elections.

Yakubu said that the programme should have commenced in 2018 but was suspended due to the challenges of time and funding.

According to him, there is one pending issue that we need to resuscitate immediately, which is implementation of the Support to Democratic Empowerment (SDE) Phase 1.

“The implementation should have commenced in May 2018 through to December 2019.

“The plan was not fully implemented for a number of reasons, but essentially the pressure on time on the commission because of general elections as well as the issue of funding.

“I am glad to note that the plan is being revised by our technical teams. I look forward to the work of the two teams.

“I wish to once again reassure you that we will jointly implement the recommendations in the current electoral circle and beyond,” he said.

Yakubu described the UN and UNDP in particular as long term partners in support of elections, good governance and democracy in Nigeria.

He said that INEC valued their partnership and would continue to work with UNDP in promoting democracy and good governance.

Yakubu recalled that in 2017 the UN Secretary General sent a Need Assessment Mission to Nigeria, as well as the Special Representative for West African and the Shahel, Mohammed Chambas, who also visited before and after the last general elections.

He further expressed appreciation for the support of the union and its agencies in promoting peaceful elections and good governance in Nigeria.

Mohamed Yahya, UNDP Resident Representative, speaking earlier, pledged the organisation continue support and engagement with INEC in deepening credible elections and democracy in Nigeria.

He said that the UNDP recognised INEC as a critical institution for deepening democracy.

“For UNDP globally, electoral commissions have been a key part for the work that we do, in deepening democracy and delivering the voices of those who have voted in a way that is credible and transparent.

“So, the work that you do, commissioners and chairperson, is critical for democratisation to take its root in this country and across the continent.

“For me coming here is one of the key aspects of my duties.

“I want to thank you and your team for the work you have done in the past, but also to congratulate you for delivering 2019 general elections.

“Also listening and learning from the experiences that you had in the last circle and also listening to what we can do together as we move forward,’’

Asked of his agenda in Nigeria, Yahya said that the UNDP would support Nigeria’s plans, including assisting INEC to be stronger.

“We are a leading development agency in the UN system, specifically the work on governance, reduction of poverty.

“For today engagement we are focused on how to engage INEC to make it stronger than it is,” he said.

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