According to a statement of the joint NDI/IRI pre-election assessment mission to Nigeria, ongoing terrorist attacks and killings of Nigerians by Boko Haram had disrupted daily life in Borno State and several local government areas (LGAs) in Yobe and Adamawa States.
(WATCH VIDEO: Insights into Nigerian elections)
“The presence of Boko Haram poses a political risk in that not conducting polls in significant parts of a region viewed as the stronghold of one of the contesting parties, even if for reasons of insecurity, would mean the disenfranchisement of a large number of voters,” read the statement.
“This would well call into question the legitimacy of the election in the eyes of the population, not only in the affected states but more widely.”
According to country’s electoral body, INEC, the three states have a cumulative total of approximately 4.5 million registered voters (Adamawa 1.5, Borno 1.9 and Yobe 1.1 million).
The observer missions also added that, in the north east geopolitical zone, a number of local government areas are inaccessible because of insecurity caused by Boko Haram.
The presence and de facto control of territory in these states by Boko Haram has resulted in the internal displacement of hundreds of thousands of people (IDPs).
“Advocacy for steps to be taken to facilitate IDP voting continues to grow, as INEC pursues its consultations with political parties and other election stakeholders on ways to facilitate such IDP voting,” added the observer missions.
(READ MORE: Will Jonathan halt Buhari’s momentum ahead of February polls?)
According to a recently released Gallup poll, confidence in elections in Nigeria has eroded significantly since 2011: whereas 51 percent of Nigerians expressed confidence in the honesty of elections in 2011, that number declined to 13 percent in 2014.
The delegation found that confidence of most Nigerians with regards to the upcoming polls is influenced by past issues of national significance such as electoral manipulation and violence.
The two missions said the February elections would also be influenced by the drop in oil prices, a major contributor to the country’s GDP.