Former President, Ernest Koroma of Sierra Leone has said that the outcome of the Nigerian general elections will set a pace for democracy in Africa and the West African Sub-region.
Koroma, who is also Leader of the ECOWAS Election Observation Mission to Nigeria, made the observation during a briefing of the ECOWAS Observer Mission to Nigeria on Thursday in Abuja.
Koroma said that the ECOWAS Community was keeping a close eye on the general elections.
He said the elections would go a long way to set the pace for the region which had been affected by recent coup attempts with some Member states now under military rule in the sub-region.
“These, we are told is the most competitive elections in Nigeria and everybody is excited about it. Everybody is keen to hear the outcome.
“The elections in Nigeria are not only about Nigeria; they go beyond Nigeria. They go beyond ECOWAS. They go beyond even the African continent.
“Yesterday, I was having a discussion with the foreign minister of Nigeria and I said we are here and we are very keen and concerned and we expect the best out of this election because it is Nigeria.
“It is Nigeria because Nigeria runs not only the economies of ECOWAS, but it is a shining star on the continent.
“It is Nigeria because whatever happens here, we’ll set the pace of election activities in other countries.
“We are all aware that of late, ECOWAS is experiencing a reversal of the democratic gains that we have made over the years .
“Of recent, we have had five coups and we have three countries currently run by military regimes. This is not a profile that we should be proud of.
“We thought military coups are things of the past but one of the issues of dispute always revolves around elections. The processes to the elections and the outcome of elections.
“That is why, I believe that ECOWAS is very concerned. That is why ECOWAS has taken time to ensure that the ECOWAS protocols on peace and security are adhered to.
“And we have a responsibility as observers to ensure that we contribute to the process,” Koroma said.
Dr Omar Touray, President of the ECOWAS Commission, said that democracy in Nigeria meant democracy in the sub-region, and the continent.
Touray said that he was optimistic of a credible electoral process and that the outcomes of the election would reflect the will of the people.
“When you look at it closely, you would appreciate the importance of Nigeria to the West African region and to Africa as a whole.
“As commissioner has just indicated, this is the largest economy; this is the largest country. So what goes on here affects all of us, wherever we are.
“So democracy in Nigeria means democracy for the sub-region, it means democracy for the continent.
“So this is why ECOWAS attaches a lot of importance to these elections.
“And it accounts for the fact that we have deployed the largest mission in recent years with 250 observers and with a budget that is quite significant,” Touray said.
Touray also reminded the observers deployed of the enormous responsibilities placed on them.
He said that a number of regions and entities have deployed observers, but most of them would depend very much on what ECOWAS says.
“So, you should all appreciate the importance of the weight of the responsibility that you carry. Your mission is very important, not only to ECOWAS, but to the entire world.
“So, we expect that you will, under the able leadership of His Excellency President Bai Koroma, report the truth and nothing but the truth.
“You will not be carried away by fake news by disinformation and misinformation, which to us in ECOWAS, constitute a source of instability,” Touray added. (NAN)