A delegation of the ECOWAS Commission has met with the leadership of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to discuss preparations for the country’s 2019 general elections and how to step up support to the ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC), the umbrella organisation of election management bodies in the region.
The ECOWAS delegation led by the Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Gen. Francis Behanzin was received by the INEC team lead by the Chairman Prof Mahmood Yakubu, who is also President of the ECONEC governing board.
The Commissioner commended INEC for its work, noting that organising elections in a big country such as Nigeria involved challenges, especially security.
He reaffirmed ECOWAS’ support to INEC and Nigeria in accordance with the Commission’s mandate for assistance to member States organising elections.
On the activities of ECONEC, which was set up by ECOWAS in 2008 to promote credible elections in the region, Gen. Behanzin, reaffirmed the Commission’s commitment to redeem the financial support pledged to the Network.
Prof Yakubu, who was accompanied by other senior INEC officials, including Commissioners, reiterated INEC’s readiness to deliver credible elections in 2019 with the support of the Federal Government of Nigeria and with other stakeholders playing their part.
Underscoring the huge task of organising elections in Nigeria with large population, the INEC Chair noted that the more than 84.2 million registered voters in the country were more than those of several African countries combined.
To this end, he said the success of such a task required collective efforts and cooperation of all stakeholders, since INEC could not do it alone.
Prof Yakubu briefed the ECOWAS delegation on the activities of ECONEC since he assumed the presidency in March 2017, including Needs Assessment, Mid-term review/electoral follow-up and solidarity missions to member States, and the launch of a regional study on the cost of elections.
Consistent with its mandate, he said, ECONEC has also continued to assist and advocate for support to its members, adding that last April in Abuja, the Network co-organised with INEC and the European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES) an international conference on the use of technology in elections.
The ECOWAS Commission’s delegation at the meeting on Thursday, 10th October, included Brig.-Gen. Usman Abdulmumuni Yusuf, the Chief of Staff of ECOWAS Standby Force, Dr. Remi Ajibewa, Director of Political Affairs, Mrs Onyinye Onwuka, Head of Political and International Affairs Division, and Mr Francis Oke, Head of Electoral Assistance Division, who is also the ECONEC Permanent Secretary.