A ballot box filled with ballot is pictured before being counted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) at a polling station in Yenagoa in Bayelsa State ~ PIUS UTOMI EKPEI
Abuja - The Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States, (ECOWAS), John Mahama, on Monday pledged to support the Independent National Electoral Commision, (INEC), to achieve credible elections.
Mahama said this to newsmen in Abuja after a closed-door meeting with the flag bearer of the All Progressives Congress, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari at the old presidential wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.
According to the ECOWAS head, earlier in the day, he has also met with President Goodluck Jonathan, INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega and representatives of the election monitoring groups.
“I began this morning with a meeting with President Jonathan and we discussed all issues to do with the impending elections and I had firm assurances that everything is set to go and that on March 28, these elections will come off.”
“We expect the elections to be free, transparent and credible and ECOWAS is going to do everything possible to work with the political stakeholders and the INEC to make sure that the election process is credible and acceptable to the people of Nigeria.”
“Following my meeting with President Jonathan I met with the INEC chairman and he gave me the figures of their roll out in terms of logistic deployment.”
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“I believe that with what he showed, they have done satisfactory work to be able to ensure that every Nigerian is able to exercise his franchise,” Mahama said.
He disclosed further that he had also met with the leaders of the various monitoring groups including the representatives of the African Union, UN and the Commonwealth.
He said the ECOWAS representative and head of monitoring team, former President John Kuffour would arrive Nigeria on March 25 and would remain in the run up to the elections, during and after the elections.
“We are satisfied with the deployments that the various monitoring groups are going to do and so the international community is going to have its eyes across the country to witness how the election process goes and be able to make a determination and or endorsement if everything has gone freely and fairly.”
Mahama said the APC presidential candidate had raised some issues during their meeting and expressed hope that the issues would be addressed before the elections come up.
He said: “My final meeting has been with Gen. Buhari here and I feel appreciative for him taking his time to be able to meet with me.”
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“We have held discussions about elections and I feel assured that all the political leaders are looking forward to a peaceful, free and fair elections.”
“Of course there are a few issues that he has brought up which I will refer appropriately to our monitoring group and I hope that in the discussions that will take place in the next few days before the elections, some of the issues that have been raised will be addressed.”
He said the world was watching Nigeria because “these elections are critical and it's going to be another step to consolidating democracy.”
“I want to affirm to all the people of Nigeria that Nigeria is an important country not only for the ECOWAS but for the AU, it is the largest economy on this continent.”
“It is the most populous nation on this continent and the safety and security of Nigeria is important to every single member of the ECOWAS region and so we all are stakeholders in this election.”
“It just happens that we don't have a vote but we have an interest in what happens on election Day here in Nigeria and so for you Nigerians who have the vote, I hope that you'll rise up to the occasion and you'll make all of us proud,” he said.
The media reports that the elections coming up on March 28 and April 11 have generated so much interest within and outside the shores of Nigeria.