Nigerians return to the polls on Saturday, 9th March, 2019 to elect State governors and State Houses of Assembly members after presidential polls two weeks ago, while on Sunday voters in Guinea Bissau will file out to vote for the country’s 102-seat People’s Assembly.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Nigeria, has issued the Certificate of Return to the declared winner of the 23rd February presidential vote, President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and his deputy, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
ECOWAS deployed a 200-member Observation Mission for the Nigerian presidential polls, including 15 Long-term observers supported by the European Union under the EU Support to ECOWAS Regional Peace, Security and Stability Mandate (EU-ECOWAS PSS) Project.
Meanwhile, President Buhari’s closest rival in the presidential contest, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, has mounted a legal challenge to the results alleging irregularities and rigging.
The elections on Saturday, are for 29 of Nigeria’s 36 States, the State Houses of Assembly and supplementary polls in 14 States where the Senate and National Assembly elections did not hold or were declared inconclusive two weeks ago.
For Guinea Bissau, some 761,000 registered voters out of an estimated population of 1.9 million will vote national legislators in the elections that were originally scheduled to take place last November, then moved to December and then to10th March 2019, due to logistical and operational challenges.
ECOWAS has been engaged in sustained preventative diplomacy and mediation to bring the stakeholders on the same page for a peaceful electoral process.
In the latest mediation efforts, President Buhari, Chair of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government and his Guinean counterpart, President Alpha Conde both Mediators on Guinea Bissau, dispatched special envoys to Bissau.
The envoys, Nigeria’s Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama and Minister of State Naby Bangoura of Guinea, accompanied by the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, met with key stakeholders, including President Jose Mario Vaz, Prime Minister Aristides Gomes, the leadership of the National Electoral Commission and a group of foreign diplomats involved in the peace-building process ahead of the parliamentary polls.
Nigeria has donated 350 voter registration kits, five vehicles and seven motor bikes to assist that country’s electoral commission in organising credible elections.
This followed a Needs Assessment and advocacy Mission to Guinea Bissau last year by the ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC), led by its president Prof Mahmood Yakubu, who is also the INEC Chair.
The mission was within the context of ECONEC’s mandate for support to its members to strengthen democracy and good governance through peer support, research, experience sharing and pooling or resources in the region based on international best practices.