Sheriff Mahmud Ismail: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 21 February 2023:
Former President of Sierra Leone, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, yesterday departed Sierra Leone for Nigeria to lead the ECOWAS elections observation mission (EOM) to that West African country.
With a population of over 213 million people, Nigeria is Africa’s most populated country with the potential to be a major player in the global economy.
General elections slated to take place on February 25, 2023, are critical to the peace and stability of the West African subregion where democracy is in decline and where at least five military coups have taken place.
About ninety-four million people have registered to vote in over 146,000 polling stations across 491 constituencies in Nigeria. The sheer numbers of the voting population represent a logistical nightmare and will pose a huge challenge to anyone involved with those elections.
President Koroma acknowledges the enormity of the task and the significance of the Nigerian elections on the rest of West Africa.
“The 2023 elections in Nigeria are of great significance for the peace, security and the democratic growth of West Africa and the entire continent,” he said.
In the letter from the ECOWAS Chairperson, Dr Umar Allieu Tuoray, the subregional body is counting on President Koroma’s rich leadership experience and deep understanding of the political and electoral dynamics in Africa.
Since 2019, President Koroma has successfully led six African Union and ECOWAS elections observation missions to Zambia Kenya, Namibia, The Gambia, Togo and Benin. In addition to leading the ECOWAS observer mission, the Sierra Leonean statesman will, after polling day, shift to ‘preventive diplomacy’ efforts to facilitate a smooth and peaceful transition.
Four candidates will contest in the February 25 polls – Bola Ahmed Tinubu, former Governor of Lagos from the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC); Peter Obi, former Governor of Anambra State from the Labour Party; Rabiu Musa KwanKwaso, former governor of Kano State from the New Nigerian People’s Party (NNPP); and Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President from the Peoples Party(PDP).
President Ernest Bai Koroma is expected to return to Sierra Leone on March 1st, 2023.