Sheriff Mahmud Ismail: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 3 March 2023:
Head of the Economic Community of West African States Elections Observer Mission (ECOWASEOM) to Nigeria – former Sierra Leonean President Ernest Bai Koroma, and the head of the African Union Elections Observer Mission (AUEOM), former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, yesterday held ‘Exit Meetings’ with the presidential candidates of the two main opposition parties – H.E Atiku Abubakarr of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), and H.E. Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP).
This effort follows the declaration Wednesday of Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) as winner of the February 25 polls.
The chairman of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made the pronouncement amidst strong calls by the main opposition parties for the elections to be cancelled on the basis that there were grave violations of the electoral process and significant irregularities in the results.
The two opposition leaders have described the polls as a sham and indicated their determination to challenge the results. The agitation, particularly by Atiku’s PDP and Obi’s LP, has raised fears that there could be disturbances of the peace and stability of Africa’s most populous nation.
The PDP and LP who polled the second and third highest votes respectively are clearly extremely influential in Nigeria’s body politic. Leaving nothing to chance, the two heads of the ECOWAS and the AU Missions, have therefore jointly further engaged the aggrieved opposition leaders, commending them for their patriotism in keeping the peace, and emphasized to them the imperative of seeking redress using the courts rather than the streets.
ECOWAS and AU are concerned that if the disputed outcome of Nigeria’s elections were to result in violence, it would serve as a very dangerous precedent not only for West Africa but also the wider African continent.
In a series of tweets, former president Koroma has described the last few days as terrific but praised Nigerians for what he calls their ‘graciousness’ in maintaining peace and tranquillity.
“It’s been a terrific Mission to Nigeria but thanks to the graciousness of the Nigerian people, Africa’s largest nation remains peaceful after stiffly contested elections,” Koroma said.
Former President Koroma further stated that “Nothing is perfect in human endeavour; we acknowledge the shortcomings in the February 25 polls, implore West Africa to adopt the best aspects of these elections and learn from its challenges”.
He also assured that “The leadership of ECOWAS will continue to work with the AU, the West African Elders Forum (WAEF), and the wider international community for a peaceful conclusion of this process.
The former Sierra Leonean president congratulated all the candidates for putting their country first, even as they express dissatisfaction over the outcome. Then he urged the “President -elect to be magnanimous and to reach out to his competitors to chart a peaceful conclusion of the electoral process”.
Watch here – Former President Koroma of Sierra Leone as he exercises diplomacy as head of ECOWAS election observer mission to Nigeria 2023: