President Muhammadu Buhari has spoken of the need by Economic Community of West African States electoral bodies to engage all stakeholders in Guinea Bissua ahead of 24th November, 2019 presidential poll.
This is as Buhari also assured the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Network of Electoral Commission (ECONEC) of Nigeria’s continuous support towards ensuring credible electoral process in the sub-region.
The success of the election will restore stability and eventual withdrawal of ECOWAS troop from the country, it is speculated.
The president spoke on Monday at a symposium organised by ECONEC in Abuja. The symposium is part of the programmes lined up for the 6th Biennial General Assembly of ECONEC.
Buhari also noted that the country is in full support of affirmative action in nomination of candidates for election as part of the efforts to ensure inclusiveness in the electoral proces.
While stressing the impact of the not too young bill which he signed into law before the 2019 general polls, Buhari said that the government will ensure the involvement of other categories of citizens such as persons living with disabilities and those internally displaced for a variety of reasons are integrated into the electoral process in Nigeria in particular and other countries in our sub-region in general.
The President who was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha said, “With the successful conduct of parliamentary elections in Guinea Bissau in March this year, the next big step is the Presidential election. I urge ECONEC to continue to work with ECOWAS by engaging with all stakeholders in the country for a successful Presidential election scheduled for 24th November, 2019 that will restore stability and eventually facilitate the withdrawal of troops.
“I want to assure you of Nigeria’s continued assistance because credible election in our sub-region is not only good for democracy and periodic elections, it is also good for overall sub-regional stability. We cannot allow the failure of the political process to destabilize our countries to the extent that regional military intervention becomes inevitable as is unfortunately still the case in the sub-region.
“This is a very encouraging sign of our steady progress in ensuring that all segments of our society have a voice in the management of public affairs, especially through the democratic process. It is also an indication that in spite of the progress achieved so far, more needs to be done by Governments through legislation, by political parties through affirmative action in the nomination of candidates for election and by all stakeholders through unrelenting advocacy for greater inclusion of all segments of society in the democratic and electoral processes.”
The President noted that it was his conviction for inclusiveness that led to the signing into law the not too young to run bill in the country.
He added, I want to assure you that this is just the beginning. We should continue to ensure that not only the youth but other categories of citizens such as persons living with disabilities and those internally displaced for a variety of reasons are integrated into the electoral process in Nigeria in particular and other countries in our sub-region in general.
“In doing so, we will continue to support democratic consolidation in the sub-region. One way of doing so is for the Election Management Bodies (EMBs) to take the lead through peer support. I have followed with keen interest, the efforts of ECONEC in this regard. In the last two years, ECONEC, under the leadership of the Nigerian Electoral Body Chairman, has been a strong advocate for Nigeria’s bilateral electoral assistance to countries in the sub-region based on need.
“Within the limits of available resources, Nigeria has responded by providing material and technical support to ECONET. The more recent examples include logistics support to Sierra Leone, deployment of experts from INEC on the request of ECOWAS and the United Nations to assist in cleaning up the voters’ register in Liberia ahead of the Presidential run-off election in 2017 and the provision of voter registration equipment to Guinea Bissau which facilitated the conduct of parliamentary election in March this year.
In his opening remarks, the outgoing Chairman of ECONEC, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu lamented the high cost of conducting elections in the sub-region.
Yakubu said, “A critical issue for the future of ECONEC is funding. With support from OSIWA, experts were commissioned to undertake a major study on the worrisome cost of conducting elections in the sub-region focusing on two countries from each of the three linguistic blocks i.e. Anglophone (Nigeria and Liberia), Francophone (Benin Republic and Senegal) and Lusophone (Cape Verde and Guinea Bissau).
“The report was discussed and validated by member States at a high profile meeting here in Abuja in October last year. The English and French versions of the report will be presented shortly while we are working on the Portuguese translation. At the same time, ECONEC and ECF-SADC, with support from ECES, organised a major international conference on the opportunities and challenges of deploying technology for elections here in Abuja in April 2018 with a view to exploring ways of reducing cost and further enhancing transparency and credibility in elections.”