Michael Svetlik is the Vice President of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES). The organization was responsible for the two-day training programme for the 250 judges appointed by the Court of Appeal to the election petitions tribunal for the 2019 general elections. In this interview, he speaks about the training and his impression of the Nigerian democratic process. Excerpts:
What is the idea behind the training IFES organized for the judges?
The International Foundation for Electoral Systems has a strong working relationship with the Court of Appeal and supporting an effective and efficient appeals petitions process.
How significant is the Nigerian election to your organization?
It is extremely significant as any general election is in terms of the impact that it can have on the future of governments and the peace and welfare of the population.
What would you say are some of the challenges of election petitions across the world and in particularly, Nigeria?
Certainly, we have seen increasing emphasis on the use of the courts in adjudicating election petitions and disputes in post-election periods. That has been the case certainly in recent elections on the continent. And certainly, we have seen that in the pre-election period and I suspect that we will see this in the post-election or after elections as well.
And it is important that the process will be handled in an open and transparent manner, and that the justices are able to carry out their responsibilities under the law and that those judgements are respected by all parties.
And from what you have seen so far, what is your impression about Nigeria’s election. Do you think that it is going to be successful and devoid of crises?
Well I am very optimistic that election would take place in a very peaceful environment. My organization has enjoyed a strong working relationship with both the INEC and Court of Appeal over the past almost 20 years, and we have seen very positive progress in many respects as it relates to the election process. And I am very optimistic about the vote.