NIGERIAN ELECTIONS FOLLOWED WITH GREAT EXPECTATIONS, SAYS MADAM JOHNSON-SIRLEAFMadam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, a former Liberian President and Head of the ECOWAS 200-member Observation Mission to Nigeria says the 2019 general elections in Africa’s most populous nation are being followed with great expectations.
“Nigeria is a great country and the elections (of 16th February and 2nd March) are not only important but historic. As observers we are hopeful that the result is something we will all beproud of,” the Nobel Peace Laureate said in Abuja on Wednesday 13th February 2019, while receiving a Peer Support and Learning Mission of the ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC) to Nigeria.
She told the ECONEC mission led by Mohamed N’fah-Alie Conteh, chair of Sierra Leone’s Electoral Commission that the ECOWAS Commission was deploying 180 Short-term observers to Nigeria, to join the 20 Long-term observation team members already on ground for the elections.
The ECOWAS Observation Mission chief expressed optimism that the electoral process would go well given the level of preparations and assurances given by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the security agencies, and going by the two Peace Accords signed by the political parties and their candidates committing to non-violence, free, fair and credible elections.
Both accords were initiated by the National Peace Committee made up of eminent Nigerians, and is chaired by former military Head of State Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar.
Under the second peace accord signed in Abuja on Wednesday by the presidential candidates including the two front-runners, sitting President Mohammadu Buhari of the APC and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the main opposition PDP, the contestants agreed to respect the results of the poll or resort to constitutional means to seek redress.
Madam Johnson-Sirleaf, who has also met a range of Nigerian political stakeholders, including the INEC, leaders of the political parties and the acting Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adamu, urged all Nigerians to conduct themselves with dignity and the highest level of patriotism, adding that Africa and the rest of the world were watching the electoral process in the country with interest.
Chief Electoral Commissioner Conteh thanked the ECOWAS head of mission for the audience explaining that the ECONEC mission was in Nigeria to support INEC, whose chair Prof. Mahmood Yakubu is also president of theECONEC governing board.
He said the mission comprising officials of election management bodies in the region, would also use the opportunity to share experiences and learn best practices that would enhance the conduct of credible elections across the region.
The European Union under the EU Support to ECOWAS Regional Peace, Security and Stability Mandate (EU-ECOWAS PSS) Project, supports the deployment of 15 Long-term observers to Nigeria and another five to Senegal, which is holding its presidential vote on the 24th of February. Some 6.8 million registered Senegalese voters will cast their ballots to choose a new president among five contestants, including incumbent President Macky Sall, who is seeking a second mandate.
The 29 million-Euro ECOWAS-EU PSS Project, the financing agreement of which was signed in 2013, supports ECOWAS in it’s interventions in conflict prevention and resolution, peace building and reconciliation.
It seeks to assist ECOWAS to execute its conflict prevention and resolution mandate in a sustainable way; creating a shift from a reactive to a preventive mode and in acquiring increased strategic, operational and management capacities by strengthening the capacities of its departments and units with responsibility for this sector – ECOWAS Peace Fund and the Political Affairs, Peace and Security Department.
The ECONEC Peer Support and Learning Mission to Nigeria, which is supported by the European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES) and the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA), will meet with Nigerian political stakeholders as part of its objective to share experiences and learn best practices for the conduct of credible and peaceful elections in the region.