ELECTION observers representing the Commonwealth have arrived Nigeria today undeterred by Nasir El-Rufai’s dust-raising statement on international interference in the country’s election.
The Commonwealth observers have reported to the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to meet Mahmood Yakubu, INEC Chairman and other members of the commission at the commissions’ conference room in Abuja.
Jakaya Kikwete is the leader of the Commonwealth Observer Mission to Nigeria. Mrs. Lesley Clark; Mr. Ernest Sagaga; Mr. Gary Dunn, Mr. Shahabuddin Yaqoob; and Mr. Prosper Bani are other members of the observer group.
Last week, El-Rufai’s statement had caused reactions from concerned citizens who think such utterance is provocative and may incite violence.
European Union Election Observer Mission arrived Nigeria on January 22, stating that the observer mission has no interest in seeing any particular candidate win but are absolutely independent and will assess Nigeria’s commitment to electoral laws and international best practices.
It is expected that the outcome of the Commonwealth Observer Mission’s meeting with the INEC will be made public later.
Commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good. Historically it has sometimes been synonymous with “republic”. The noun “commonwealth”, meaning “public welfare general good or advantage” dates from the 15th century. Originally a phrase (the common-wealth or the common weal – echoed in the modern synonym “public weal”) it comes from the old meaning of “wealth”, which is “well-being”, and is itself a loose translation of the Latin res publica (republic).
The term literally meant “common well-being”. In the 17th century, the definition of “commonwealth” expanded from its original sense of “public welfare” or “commonweal” to mean “a state in which the supreme power is vested in the people; a republic or democratic state”.
The term evolved to become a title to a number of political entities. Three countries – Australia, the Bahamas, and Dominica – have the official title “Commonwealth”, as do four U.S. states and two U.S. territories. More recently, the term has been used to name some fraternal associations of nations, most notably the Commonwealth of Nations, an organization primarily of former territories of the British Empire, which is often referred to as simply “the Commonwealth”.