By Emmanuel Oloniruha
The West Africa Elders Forum (WAEF) has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), security operatives, and other stakeholders to act in accordance with the laws of the land in the Saturday elections.
WAEF made the call in Abuja in a statement jointly signed by its leader of 2023 Election Mission to Nigeria and former President of Ghana, John Mahama; and the Convener of the Forum and former President Goodluck Jonathan.
The forum urged all stakeholders to exercise their constitutional responsibilities in a manner that would promote peace and protect the integrity of the electoral process in the governorship and state assemblies elections.
They urged INEC to address the challenges identified by various stakeholders after the Feb. 25 presidential and National Assembly elections, as a means of protecting the integrity of the process.
“This election is another opportunity for INEC to rebuild the trust and confidence of the citizens and show its commitment to credible polls for a better democratic outcome in Nigeria and our sub-region.
“There is, therefore, the need for the electoral body to take into account the complaints raised by the different stakeholders, including local and international observers, during the presidential and national assembly elections and make a commitment to resolving those challenges.
“We reiterate our earlier statement made after the Presidential and National Assembly elections that Nigeria is a major stakeholder in the sustainability of democracy in West Africa.
“The responsibility of maintaining the nation’s thriving democracy and the general peace of our sub-region rests on all our shoulders, especially on the credibility of INEC and other election management bodies in West Africa, during elections.”
WAEF urged Nigerians to be law-abiding and desist from acts that could mar Saturday’s elections and threaten the peace of the country and the sub-region.
“ The WAEF Election Mission to Nigeria, 2023, once again commends Nigerians for their calmness and maturity during the last Presidential and National Assembly elections.
“We wish to call for fair, peaceful, and transparent elections as citizens gear up to go to the polls for the Gubernatorial and State Assembly elections, on Saturday,” the forum appealed.
The forum praised the presidential candidates in the last elections for heeding the elders’ advice to toe the path of peace and follow legal means to address the grievances observed during the last elections.
The mission urged political parties, candidates, and their supporters to carry out their civic responsibilities within the ambit of the law and refrain from acts that could lead to violence and the breakdown of law and order during and after the polls.
The only elders called on security authorities to be alert to their responsibilities and check the unlawful activities of those seeking to disrupt the elections.
“Ahead of this second round of elections, we have observed the untoward actions of some party loyalists in some states meant to induce voter suppression by intimidating the citizens and discouraging them from exercising their civic rights.
“This same trend was noticeable three weeks ago during the presidential and national assembly elections.
“The citizens overcame these challenges and were able to cast their ballots and we are hopeful that, this time also, they will be out in their numbers to cast their ballots in defence of the nation’s democracy.”
WAEF also commended Nigerians for their peaceful disposition and faith in the nation’s democracy, in spite some of the challenges of the process