the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), has deployed 200 election observers across the six geopolitical zones of the country, ahead of Saturday’s presidential and national assembly elections.
The ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Francis Behanzin, who made this known at a press briefing on Thursday in Abuja, noted that a pre-election fact-finding mission had been to Nigeria in November 2018 ahead of the elections.
Behanzin explained that the fact-finding mission included high-level representatives of the ECOWAS Commission, who met with relevant stakeholders in the electoral process and urged them to support peaceful and credible elections.
He said: “Based on the recommendations of the pre-election fact-finding mission, a five-member core team of Long-Term Observers were deployed on Jan. 13 to observe the phases of the electoral process leading up to the elections.
“This core team was joined by additional 27 Long Term Observers from Jan. 26.
“In furtherance of our commitment to the process, a total of 200 Short-Term Observers are ready to be deployed in all the six geopolitical zones in the country to support the long term mission on the Election Day,” he said.
The commissioner encouraged observers to be attentive, strictly follow the observation codes and guidelines and give their full commitment to the mission.
The head of the mission, former Liberian President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, tasked observers to be proactive in the discharge of their duties.
Johnson-Sirleaf said their commitment would contribute to building the confidence and trust of the electorate in the democratic process in Nigeria and the region.
She added that the outcome of the mission would undoubtedly serve as a yardstick to measure the credibility of the elections.
She said: “It is in this spirit that we should all see this onerous task as very important which should be diligently and meticulously done without compromise.”
She also urged political parties and leaders to “conduct themselves in a manner that contributes to a peaceful, free, fair, credible and transparent election, as has been done previously in the country.”
“In the case of Nigeria, the current election is being held on the heels of nagging security challenges and tense political environment.
“We are, however, confident that Nigeria’s strength and resilience, as well as with the support of friends, will go through this process in the most successful manner.
“We should remain mindful of the fact that the onus to hold peaceful, free and fair elections rests with the Nigerian people themselves,” she stated.