West African Leaders Speak On Election Controversies, Tell INEC What To Do Immediately

West African Leaders Speak On Election Controversies, Tell INEC What To Do Immediately

Following the controversies which accompanied the Saturday Presidential election courtesy of the reported irregularities which characterized the polls, West African leaders have prevailed on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to go ahead and comply with Nigeria’s electoral laws.

A former President of Ghana, John Dramani Mahama, and an Ex-president of Nigeria, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, including other West African Elders Forum, WAEF, members stated this on Tuesday in a press release in Abuja.

The forum called on the people of Nigeria to remain unperturbed, but asked the electoral umpire to look into the concerns and procedural question being put the commission by various stakeholders in the election.

The West African leaders insisted that complying with the Electoral laws would boost the confidence of Nigerians in the current collation process.

They had a meeting with the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar, Peter Obi of the Labour Party, LP, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of the New Nigerian People’s Party, NNPP and the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC’s presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, as part of efforts to promote peace after the polls.

According to the statement: “The West Africa Elders Forum (WAEF) Election Mission to Nigeria, 2023, wishes to commend Nigerians for the resilience and patriotism displayed during the Presidential and National Assembly election which held on Saturday February 25, 2023.

“In December 2022, we deployed a pre-election mediation mission led by former Sierra Leonean President, His Excellency Ernest Bai Koroma to interface with key stakeholders. Our Election Mission led by former Ghana president, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama which has been in the country since last week, witnessed election day proceedings on February 25, 2023 and has continued to observe the unfolding developments, since the collation process began.

“Other members of the Mission include former Beninoise President His Excellency Boni Yayi, former Nigerian President His Excellency Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, former Vice President of The Gambia, Her Excellency Fatoumata Jallo Tambajang, former Burkinabe Prime Minister and President of the Economic Community of West African States His Excellency Kadre Ouedraogo, and former Deputy Chair of the African Union, Dr. Erastus Mwencha.

“The Mission noted how Nigerians across the country demonstrated faith and patriotism in their country, defying many challenges to perform their civic duties. While the elections were peaceful in a number of places, challenges of delay in arrival of electoral materials, voter suppression, ballot box vandalization and incidents of violence in some states, created anxiety among citizens who were passionate to cast their ballots.

“We commend Nigerians for the calmness, patience and maturity they have continued to exhibit as they wait for the collation process to be concluded.
The Mission notes that some political parties and concerned citizens have raised procedural questions and allegations of infractions of the electoral law in the process of collation of results. We call on all aggrieved parties to document and present their claims to INEC, in accordance with the Electoral Act 2022.

“The Mission notes the imperative of retaining the confidence of Nigerians in the ongoing electoral process and, therefore, urges the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to thoroughly investigate those concerns and comply with the electoral law and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in the process of collating the election results.

“We reiterate that Nigeria is a major stakeholder in the sustainability of democracy in West Africa and the responsibility of maintaining the nation’s thriving democracy and the general peace of our sub-region rest on all our shoulders, especially on the integrity of INEC and other election management bodies in West Africa, during elections. We therefore urge INEC to live up to its responsibility of delivering free, fair and credible elections, in accordance with the nation’s laws.

“WAEF urges political parties, candidates and their supporters to remain calm and peaceful while awaiting the final outcome of the electoral process.
As former leaders who are committed to peace and stability in our sub-region, we have begun a round of consultations with some of the presidential candidates and other key stakeholders, taking to them our message of hope, understanding and peace.

“So far, WAEF have held meetings with some of the presidential candidates including the Presidential candidate of the New Nigeria People’s Party Dr. Rabiu Kwankwaso and the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in Abuja.

“This afternoon we also held consultations with the All Progressives Congress Presidential candidate Senator Bola Tinubu and the Labour Party Presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, in an expanded meeting that included the Heads of Missions of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU), His Excellency Ernest Bai Koroma and His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta, respectively, as well as the President of the ECOWAS Commission, His Excellency Dr. Omar Alieu Touray.

“We have continued, in all of these meetings, to urge the candidates and their supporters to maintain peace and use all available legitimate means to sort out their concerns and grievances. We hope to sustain this Mission until the electoral processes are successfully concluded.

“We, therefore, urge everyone to be circumspect in their actions and responsibilities, during this moment in order not to jeopardize the collective stability and peace of the nation.”

Parties in the election had described as unacceptable the deliberate decision of the INEC boss to disrespect the electronic transmission of results as contained in the law.

The parties lamented huge disparities between the submitted results by their agents and the results being collated in Abuja.

They insisted that manual result collation marred the integrity of the election, hence the demand for total cancellation of the polls.