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The European Union (EU) yesterday said that it had expended more than 100 million Euros of European countries’ tax payers’ money in Nigeria’s electoral process since 1999.
This is even as Nigeria’s electoral body, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) lamented that the commission was burdened by multiple court orders from political parties arising from the just concluded primaries of political parties.
EU Ambassador in Nigeria, Mr. Ketil Karlsen and the national chairman of INEC, Prof Mahmood Yakubu made the assertions in their separate remarks on INEC Youth Votes Count Campus Outreach at University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN).
Speaking at the event, which featured some Nigerian celebrities, including Innocent Idibia (2face), Uti Nwachukwu, Chidimma Ekike, Olubankole Wellington (Banky W) and Ebuka Obi-Uchendu, EU Ambassador, Kelson said that EU was helping to raise awareness and strengthen democratic institutions, which would in turn guarantee free and fair elections and sustainable development.
He said that although EU did not support any political party or party ideology, it encouraged democratic processes and supports all inclusive participation of all groups like the disabled, women and youths in politics.
On his part, the national chairman of INEC, Prof. Yakubu, who was represented by the national commissioner in charge of voter and civic education and representative of Anambra, Enugu and Benue in the commission, Barr Festus Okoye said youths were being targeted because they had the capacity, energy, intellect and reach to make a difference.
Meanwhile, Karlsen and the Netherlands’ Ambassador to Nigeria, Robert Petri, yesterday, paid a courtesy visit to Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State at the Government House, Enugu.
The duo were in Enugu State for the EU-funded Youth Votes Count Campus Outreach held at the University of Nigeria of Nigeria Nsukka.
In a brief chat with newsmen at the Government House, the EU Ambassador, disclosed that the programme was “to support a clear process of free, fair, credible and peaceful elections” and “the importance of making votes count.”
Karlsen expressed delight with the giant development strides and peaceful and serene atmosphere of Enugu State.
He said that Enugu State is “one of the most orderly place we have seen in Nigeria”, adding that “we enjoyed the road to University of Nigeria Nsukka”.
The Ambassador stated they had “the privilege to have a very good discussion with the governor on the challenges and opportunities in Enugu State and of course, the importance of our continued partnership not only through development cooperation but also through investments and job opportunities”.
Speaking further on his experience in Enugu State, the envoy said: “I must say that I have a wonderful impression, very calm and serene. So, it has been a pleasure to be here.