Abuja - The Commonwealth Observer Group has commended Nigeria and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for successfully conducting Saturday’s presidential and national Assembly elections, saying it was peaceful and transparent.
Bakili Muluzi, a former Malawian President and Chairperson of the group, gave the commendation while briefing newsmen on Monday in Abuja.
Muluzi commended Nigerians and major stakeholders in the electoral process for demonstrating patience and maturity during the electoral process.
"Full credit for the peaceful conduct of the elections must go, most of all, to the people of Nigeria.
"The Commonwealth Observer Group would like to commend the staff of INEC and polling officials, the security services, domestic and other international observers for the dedication and commitment they displayed.
"We commend the contribution made by the National Youth Service Corps and tertiary students.
"These young men and women showed dedication, creativity and courage in helping to deliver a transparent electoral process," he said.
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He also commended INEC for the introduction of biometric Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) for the polls.
Muluzi said that the use of PVCs in the elections enhanced the integrity of the electoral process by ensuring that only eligible voters exercised their franchise on the election days.
He also said that the campaign by political parties was highly competitive and the closest fought contest since the return of democracy in 1999.
The chairman, however, expressed concern over low percentage of women candidates in the elections, and urged political parties to review the selection process to give more chances to women.
He expressed concern over "biased and personality driven reports" by some domestic media.
According to him, in spite of the fact that the media gave the elections substantial coverage, some reports were not balanced.
The chief observer said that the group observed some irregularities with the electoral process in general.
"From reports, a substantial percentage of polling stations experienced delays in arrival of polling staff and electoral materials.
"Also majority of the polling units we visited were inadequately located and laid out," he said.