Senate President tasks ECOWAS electoral body on credible elections

Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

Nigeria’s Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki has called on the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC), to leave no stone unturned in ensuring that elections in West Africa reflect the genuine wishes of the people at all times.

Senator Saraki, gave the charge when the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, who is also the President of ECONEC, led other members of the regional electoral body on a visit to the leadership of the Senate in Abuja.

The Senate President said that the expectations of the Senate is that ECONEC would foster electoral processes within the sub-region that meet international best practices and can be exported to other continents.

“I think that is an area we hope that ECONEC will be able to achieve,” Saraki said, adding, “As you rightly said, two major elections are coming up in Liberia and Sierra Leone and I hope that the ECONEC will be able to achieve some results that we will all be very proud of.”

He noted that since credible elections are a panacea to stability and good governance, the role of the ECONEC is crucial in the political stability of the sub-region.

“You can be assured that the Senate will give all the support that will enable you to perform and be truly independent and that the elections you conduct are credible,” Saraki said. “We know the challenges, but rest assured that we will continue to give you all the support to make that happen.”

He said it is time for the ECONEC to replicate in West Africa the advancement in other parts of the world where some hours after any election, the results can be accurately predicted based on the voting pattern at the polling units.

According to the Senate President, “I think this is an area that we still have much work to do in Africa and the sub-region and that is the area too that creates a lot of violence where people know what they voted and they sit down in their homes and they hear another type of results.

“It portents danger for the entire continent and I hope that ECONEC will ensure that the wish of the people is what is announced as results. We will continue to support with legislations, funding and whatever is required to make sure you are successful,” he said. 

ECONEC was established in February 2008 in Conakry, Guinea to strengthen the capacity and enhance the value of EMB’s.  ECONEC was created in response to the commitment by ECOWAS leaders to conduct credible, free, fair and peaceful elections consistent with international best practices for strengthening democratic processes and good governance.

ECONEC is headquartered in Abuja within the Department of Political Affairs/Electoral Assistance Division of ECOWAS.  Professor Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) serves as the current President of the five-member ECONEC Governing Board.

A key aspect of ECONEC’S mission is the development of professional election officials with integrity; a strong sense of public service and a commitment to democracy.

Also, the organisation works to professionalize the system by helping ECOWAS carry out various actions to improve electoral governance in the region through programs targeted at strengthening the legal and institutional framework for organizing elections.

Nnenna.O