Former President Uhuru Kenyatta led the delegation of the AU Election Observers Mission (AUEOM) in the recently concluded Nigerian elections.
In a letter dated January 9, AU commission chairperson Moussa Faki said they had picked Uhuru because of his solid commitment to democracy and peace in Africa.
The AUEOM drew its mandate from various AU instruments and was supported by experts from the African Union Commission (AUC).
It comprised 90 members drawn from various AU member States.
Uhuru flew to Nigeria on Wednesday, February 22, where he was received by Nigeria’s Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama.
During the days leading to Saturday’s elections, Uhuru held several meetings with both the AU and International observers where he urged them to exercise impartiality.
“We are here to witness the people decide for themselves and to ensure that the process has been run in a manner in which the will shall be the victor,” Uhuru said during a meeting on Wednesday.
He also held a consultative meeting with the Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, Olukayode Ariwoola.
During the talks, the retired president got to understand the state of the judiciary’s preparedness to handle any matters arising in the general election.
Ariwoola assured the AUEOM group of the judiciary’s readiness to resolve any arising electoral disputes, highlighting the hierarchy of the established judicial processes.
On Friday, Uhuru held a meeting with the heads of International Election Observation Missions in Nigeria.
Their talks revolved around matters of deployment of observers, having a democratic electoral process and a peaceful transition.
In attendance were former Presidents Thabo Mbeki (South Africa), Bai Koroma (Sierra Leone), and Joyce Banda (Malawi) among other mission leaders.
Mbeki led the Commonwealth Mission, Koroma the ECOWAS Mission and Banda the joint National Democratic Institute/International Republican Institute Mission.
Also attending was the British High Commissioner to Nigeria Catriona Laing.
On Saturday, Uhuru joined other poll observers during the voting at various polling stations in Abuja.
On Sunday, he led the heads of international election observation missions in a post-electoral consultative meeting.
He co-hosted the meeting with the head of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Sierra Leone’s former President Bai Koroma.
The meeting’s objective was to discuss post-electoral reviews as the teams record their findings on Nigeria’s 2023 General Elections.
In a video by African Union, posted on Twitter, Uhuru said the observation team aimed at affirming Nigeria’s commitment as the largest democracy on the African continent.
“There are many challenges. They are not peculiar to Nigeria but at the end of the day, we want the eventual outcome of these elections to reflect the will of the people of this country of Nigeria,” he said.
Uhuru’s presence and that of AU at largely sparked hope for a free and fair election.
“We are also happy to see the former president of Kenya himself, who handed over power to a democratically elected government. We are grateful to the African Union,” voter Chris Uche said.
“The people from African Union, we saw them earlier in a hotel, the way they are planned, the things they were doing, it shows that Africa in itself is interested in the nation and the things we are going to do concerning this election,” another voter Ebi Alaibe said.
Saturday’s election was the seventh since Nigeria got its independence and the most competitive election since the end of military rule in 1999.
On Wednesday, the country’s electoral body Inec declared the country’s ruling party candidate Bola Tinubu the President-elect.
He will take over from the outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari.
Tinubu, 70, garnered 8.8 million votes, equating to 36 percent of the votes cast.
Tinubu’s main rival, Atiku Abubakar attained 29 percent of the votes, while Peter Obi got 25 percent.