….Pledges To Obey Nigeria Electoral Laws
By Linda Ike
The Economic Community of West African States ECOWAS Election Observer Mission in Nigeria has assured to abide by the rules of the election.
The Observer mission said that its mandate in the 2023 general election is to observe the process and ensure that all of the players worked within the framework of laws of Nigeria.
Former President of Sierra Leone who is the Leader of the group, Ernest Bai Koroma stated this on Wednesday during a visit to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama in Abuja.
Koroma expressed concerns over the scarcity of fuel and naira which affect the citizens of Nigeria.
He said Nigeria as the largest economy in the ECOWAS Sub-region is critical, stressing that the outcome of the elections will have a ripple effect on the rest of the region.
“As observers we have been meeting, we have met with our long-term observers, we have met with one of the political parties, we will be meeting all of the political parties, the security agencies but so far, we have had some concerns that bother on the availability of fuel, its limitation will affect the movement of everybody including INEC. Other concern is the scarcity of cash and limited liquidity in the system, these are concerns that have been raised by our observers and also the political party that we have met.
“Now in addition to these two general concerns, there are security issues that affects specific locations and some region. It is not a general trend but isolated incident of violence here and there, not having access to publish facilities and these are all issues that we want the government to address as we are going to these important elections.
“The other concerns may bother on key issues that have to deal with INEC but in our engagement with them, we have raised them but for those that are specifically on the hands of government maybe, we want to share with us the efforts that are made or will be made to ensure that they do not limit the overall activity of the elections”.
“But for us this is critically important for ECOWAS because it is Nigeria, one out of every four members of ECOWAS is a Nigerian, it is Nigeria because Nigeria is the biggest economy we have in this our region, it is Nigeria because anything that succeeds here will send the right signal to the rest of ECOWAS and even to the African Union and beyond.
“Now for us, the moment is critical because we have been experiencing of late a reversal in democratic gains we have made within the sub-region. We have had five attempted coups, and we have countries amongst us that have military regimes that are governing this democracy backsliding and which is not encouraging for us and we know the sacrifice Nigeria has made in the past to restore democracy in other countries including the country I come from and the neighbouring countries and what you have done recently. You are also ensuring that electioneering processes are completed fully in countries like The Gambia, others. So for us, Nigeria should be an example that is why everybody is very anxious, everybody is keen on been part of this process and we feel very proud and honoured to be part of the process”.
Koroma said the delegation was in Nigeria with great expectations and have a deployment of 250 observers all over the country to observe the electoral process for the 2023 elections.
“We are very please to be here and we are here with great expectations, we are here as an observer mission of ECOWAS to observe the electoral process. Before now we have deployed long term observers who have been involved in the early observation of the process and we are here with a total deployment of 250 observers that will be deployed all over the country to observe the process.
“It is important to have external people to come and observe because all of us are growing democracies, we are evolving and there is a need after the exercise to issue comments by way of a preliminary statement in which we will mention our observations and where there are recommendations to be made for and improvement on the process we will do so”, Koroma assured.
He is optimistic that the will of the people will be reflected at the end of the elections and the outcome accepted by the people going by President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to conduct free, fair and credible election.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama commended the Former President of Sierra-Leon, Koroma and his delegation for the sacrifices they have made to be in Nigeria to contribute their share and experience the election process.
“We don’t take it for granted and we thank you very much indeed on behalf of president Buhari and the Nigerian people. President Buhari has made it clear that he absolutely wants this to be his legacy, a peaceful transfer of power to put in place all the mechanisms to ensure peaceful, free, fair, transparent elections, and this is a wonderful legacy and we thank you enormously to agree to be a part of that.
“We couldn’t be luckier to have you come here as an election observer, we know that from your history how proud you are of what you achieved in West African sub-region, you practiced what you preached to us, what democracy is all about and that form believe in conviction in democracy. You displayed this so many years ago. That your legacy is one of those that we have built up our or we are trying to build upon in the ECOWAS Sub-region of Heads of states who believe in and practice democracy.
“Like I said, your personality, your experience is really one that we believe will really add to his process and support this process. We thank the ECOWAS team for really been part of that whole effort of strengthening democracy in our sub-region and by the grace of God your mission will be a success and our election process will also be a success”