ECOWAS deploys 250 election observers to Nigeria

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said it has deployed a total of 250 election observers to monitor the conduct of the March 28 presidential election in the country.

The regional body said though it is part of its mandate to monitor and observe all general elections in member states, the elections in Nigeria are special.

Speaking during a meeting with the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) and his running mate, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo, the ECOWAS President, Kadré Désiré Ouédraogo, said the organisation has had 250 persons in Nigeria since January 20, in the six geopolitical zones.

“We have decided to deploy an observer team of 250 persons to Nigeria and we have decided to deploy a long term observation mission. They were deployed from January 20 in the geopolitical zones of Nigeria. They came back after the postponement of the election but we had a debriefing session with them,” he said.

Ouédraogo said the body has decided to engage all the stakeholders to exchange views and share ECOWAS findings and observations as part of efforts towards ensuring the peaceful conduct of credible elections.

“We must be grateful if we can have your views of the electoral process so that we can impute it in the way ECOWAS is going to bring its supports to peaceful and stable elections in Nigeria because peace and stability are essential for development and we know that peace and security in Nigeria is important for the rest of our community. So, we are all engaged in this process and we all wish this electoral process would be successful,“ he said.

Buhari, while commending ECOWAS for showing keen interest in the conduct of Nigeria ‘s elections, assured that his party, APC, will ensure that their supporters conduct themselves peacefully during and after the polls.

He recounted the assurances given by INEC to the National Council of States, that they were ready to conduct the election, before it later shifted the dates on the grounds of lack of security guarantees.

He said with the recent progress made by INEC, with about 75 per cent distribution of PVCs, “We are of the belief that the March 28 date of the election will hold. We are satisfied with the assurances given by the President on the holding of the election as scheduled.”

He said the APC is determined to contribute its own quota to make sure that elections are held peacefully.

“We thank you very much for your concern for the political stability of Nigeria. I think that if Nigeria sneezes, ECOWAS catches cold. We are grateful to the body for showing so much interest in the country’s election,“ he said.

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