Abuja – The Honorary President, ECOWAS Network of Election Commissions (ECONEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has described the network as a vital instrument in successful conduct of credible election in West Africa sub-region.
ECONEC is an umbrella body of Election Management Bodies (EMBs) in West Africa.
Yakubu, who is the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and immediate past president of ECONEC, said this in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Abuja.
He said ECONEC was one of the best things at bilateral level that happened to good governance in West African countries.
Yakubu said the network working with international communities and development partners had been instrumental in facilitating smooth collaboration among key stakeholders such as the media, civil societies and the judiciary in member countries during the conduct of elections.
He said that ECONEC had also been helpful in addressing various challenges confronting different member countries while conducting major elections.
“For instance, when we went to Liberia, there was an issue of budget. We had a meeting with the electoral commission and we visited the parliament.
“I am happy to say that a day after we met the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, the budget was passed.
“Thereafter we met Mrs Johnson Sirleaf, the former president and fund was made available for the conduct of the electoral commission.
“We talked with the United Nations Mission in Liberia, they also provided a lot of logistics assistance,” he said.
Yakubu also said that by ECONEC interaction with international communities and development partners, electoral assistance were also provided to countries such as Benin Republic, Niger, Sierra Leone and Liberal during their elections.
“In the case of Sierra Leone, that was what led to the printing of voter cards which was a problem.
“As I said, among ourselves we have also been helping one another. Niger Republic had a problem of ballot boxes; Burkina Faso helped the country out in 2016,” he said.
Yakubu also said that Nigeria had been a force for good governance in West Africa, as Nigeria had being of help in providing some election logistics.
He said that based on request, INEC had also assisted countries, such as Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau, Conakry and Liberia, especially in the use of ICT for elections, voter registration and cleanup of voter register.
“One interesting development in Liberia is that after the election was inconclusive, there was a big problem with the register of voters.
“Because of what we did in ECONEC, the ECOWAS and UN specifically invited us to help with ICT experts to help clean up the voter register.
“It was the work done by three officers of INEC Nigeria that led to the cleanup of their voter register and conclusion of the elections in the Republic of Liberia.
“In a country like Guinea-Bissau for instance, they have not conducted elections for some time and presidential election as well.
“We were approached by the electoral commission in the country to assist with voter registration machines.
“We helped them with voter registration machines, conducted successful registration, leading to successful conduct of the parliamentary elections in March and the presidential election now scheduled for Nov. 24.,’ he added. (NAN)