Rwandan Martin Ngoga has been named among 16 Commonwealth election observers for the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in Nigeria slated for February 25. Ngoga is the former Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly and has also served as Prosecutor General of Rwanda, as well as a Special Representative to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. The Commonwealth Observer Group comprises 16 eminent persons from around the Commonwealth, including politicians, diplomats and experts in law, human rights, gender equality and election administration. Patricia Scotland, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, constituted the Commonwealth Observer Group following an invitation from Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission. The observers, led by Former President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, will be in Nigeria from February 18 to March 2. There are at least 18 cleared candidates in the presidential race. Nigeria last held elections in 2019. The mandate of the group, which is independent and impartial, is to observe the preparations for the election, the polling, counting and the results process, and the overall electoral environment. They will assess the conduct of the process as a whole and, where appropriate, make recommendations for the strengthening of the electoral system in Nigeria. “In accordance with the values and principles of the Commonwealth Charter, the work of the group seeks to promote transparency, strengthen democracy and the rule of law, and protect the right of the people of Nigeria to participate in credible, transparent and inclusive elections to shape their society,” said Scotland while announcing the group. This month’s elections hold immense significance not just for Nigeria, but for the entire African continent and the wider democratic world, she said. “It is, therefore, essential that all stakeholders in Nigeria reaffirm their shared commitment to ensuring a peaceful election environment which is conducive to the free exercise of people’s franchise and in which fundamental freedoms and rights are respected.” As of January 2023, an estimated 93.4 million registered voters will have the right to cast ballots for presidential and national assembly candidates in 176,846 polling units across 774 local government areas. Upon completion of its assignment, the group will submit its recommendations in a report to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, who will forward it to the Government of Nigeria, the Independent National Electoral Commission, the leadership of political parties taking part in the elections and all Commonwealth governments. The report will be made public afterwards. The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 56 independent and equal countries. It is home to 2.5 billion people, and includes both advanced economies and developing countries.