The Head of the ECOWAS Observation Mission to Nigeria’s general elections Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has appealed to Nigerians to maintain peace and adhere to the rule of law through the country’s electoral process.
In a special message on the eve of Saturday’s rescheduled presidential and National Assembly polls, she said “the process has not been easy, but nothing worth fighting for ever is. The people of Africa stand in solidarity with you.”
“We have watched the progress of INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission), over the past week working together with domestic and international partners in addressing the logistical and technical challenges,” which led to the postponement of the polls, the Head of ECOWAS Mission said, adding: “We are pleased that these operational constraints have been significantly addressed thus creating a conducive atmosphere for tomorrow’s general elections.”
She expressed confidence “that the same level of maturity will be demonstrated during the remaining phase of the electoral process” to consolidate the nation’s young democracy.
The former Liberian leader, a Nobel Peace Laureate, commended Nigeria for its pivotal peace efforts and restoration of democracy in the ECOWAS region, adding: “We look forward to joining a proud nation in the celebration of a successful election.”
Her statement followed a meeting of heads of International Observation Missions, which she chaired at the ECOWAS Commission’s Abuja headquarters.
At the meeting, which was also attended by the envoys of the United States, UK and the Head of the European Union Delegation to Nigeria, the heads of the observer groups compared notes and expressed their optimism to see peaceful and transparent elections in Africa’s most populous nation.
International Observation groups represented at the meeting included the African Union, Commonwealth, European Union, the US Democratic and Republican Institutes and the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA).
In a related development, the INEC Chairman Prof Mahmood Yakubu, in his daily briefing of stakeholders affirmed that the Commission was fully mobilised for Saturday’s and the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections on 9th March.
Also speaking at the briefing, Nigeria’s acting Inspector-general Mohammed Adamu assured that the police in collaboration with the other security agencies were ready to provide adequate electoral security. He, however, warned that violators of the electoral law would be apprehended.
Some 72.7 million of Nigeria’s 84 million registered voters who have collected their Permanent Voters Cards are eligible to vote during the general elections, in which 91 registered political parties are fielding more than 1,558 candidates for the positions of a president, 29 State governors 109 senators, 991 lawmakers of the National and State Houses of Assembly, six Area Council Chairperson and 62 Councillors in the Federal Capital Abuja.
In a field of 73 presidential candidates, incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who is seeking a second mandate of four years, and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the main opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) are the front-runners.