The ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC) and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) have reaffirmed their commitment to the pursuit of credible elections towards consolidation of democracy in the region.
This was the focus of a meeting in Abuja on Thursday, 4th October between Prof Mahmood Yakubu, President of the ECONEC Governing Board and the newly appointed Senegal-based OSIWA Executive Director Ms Ayisha Osori.
After formally congratulating the new Director on her appointment, Prof Yakubu, who is also Chair of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), briefed the OSIWA delegation on ECONEC’s programme of activities since he assumed office in March 2017.
He expressed ECONEC’s gratitude to OSIWA for being a major provider of financial and technical support to ECONEC since its formation in 2008, as the umbrella organisation of election management bodies, promoting free, fair and credible elections in the region.
Ms Osori, who assumed office last month, gave an assurance of OSIWA’s commitment to continued partnership with ECONEC.
She commended ECONEC for its work and contribution to improving the electoral processes, noting that electoral assistance is a positive step towards the consolidation of democracy in the region.
Ms Osori was accompanied on the visit by Mrs Catherine Angai, Programme and Advocacy Coordinator at the OSIWA National office in Nigeria.
ECONEC activities under Prof Yakubu’s leadership include Needs Assessment, election Follow-up/Mid-term Review and Solidarity Missions to many of the 15 ECONEC members, and impactful advocacy that has resulted in critical support to members holding elections.
The latest outcome of the advocacy is the Nigerian Government’s provision of voter registration kits to Guinea Bissau at the request of that country’s National Electoral Commission, and facilitated by ECONEC following a recent visit by Prof Yakubu-led delegation to Bissau.
The kits were officially handed over by Nigeria’s Foreign Minister, Ambassador Geoffrey Onyeama, to Guinea Bissau’s Prime Minister Aristides Gomes, in Bissau.
Also, with ECONEC’s advocacy and at the behest of their electoral commissions, technical and logistics supports were provided to Liberia and Sierra Leone during their recent national elections.
There has also been enhanced bilateral cooperation among ECONEC members, and in pursuit of its mandate to support its members through experience and information sharing, peer collaboration and research, ECONEC has undertaken a study on the Cost of Elections in West Africa.
The result is expected to result in the reduction of spiralling electoral expenses, to make elections and democracy more cost-effective, participatory and inclusive.
Similarly, in response to emerging challenges to the conduct of credible elections, ECONEC in collaboration with INEC and the European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES), also organised in Abuja last April, an International Conference on the use of Technology in Elections.