By Progress Godfrey, Abuja
In the final lead to Nigeria’s Presidential election, former West African leaders under the umbrella of the West African Elders Forum (WAEF), have called on citizens to ensure peaceful conduct of polls.
Addressing Journalists at a press briefing in Abuja on Friday, Former President of Ghana, John Mahama, who led Members of the Mission underscored the importance of the elections, adding that as the ‘Big Brother’ of West Africa, successful elections in Nigeria would help influence democracy in Africa.
“We are here to show solidarity and goodwill to Nigeria’s elections and to encourage Nigerians to behave in a manner that would ensure peaceful polling.
“As a forum of former West African leaders, we are pleased to have been invited by the Nigerian Government to witness this very important election.
“Nigeria is a great country and our big brother in the sub-region. This is why Nigeria’s election is a big event for all of Africa.
“This year’s election is attracting this level of interest because Nigeria’s success and progress in this regard will go a long way in stabilizing democracy, promoting good governance and maintaining peace in the sub-region,” he said.
He said the Forum was pleased with the level of preparedness by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the security forces policing the elections and other stakeholders involved in the elections, towards conducting a free and fair exercise.
According to Mahama, the Forum was also impressed by the commitment of candidates to support violent-free elections which they have demonstrated by signing two Peace Accords, while charging them to abide by them.
He said, “This is a tradition that has continued to serve Nigeria well during elections, since it was introduced in 2015.
“The Peace Accord mechanism is a positive development which other African countries can adopt and apply to improve their elections and guarantee peace before, during and after elections.
“We encourage the candidates who signed this accord to keep to its terms, in the interest of peace and progress in Nigeria.”
Furthermore, he stated that as a non-partisan platform for former leaders in Africa’s sub-region, its role is not to observe elections, but to support the efforts of West African countries towards consolidating their democracies. This he said, they do by providing advisory and mediation services to avert election-related conflicts, before, during and after elections.
“Our Mission’s engagements here, and in any other West African country holding elections, are guided by our own personal experiences as former Presidents and leaders in the sub-region, who had managed elections and overseen successful conflict resolution and peace processes.”
He said on election day, Members of the Mission will visit few polling stations in Abuja, the federal capital territory, to observe election day procedures and results collation processes.