Liberia’s IRON LADY and former President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (EJS), who has been selected as head of ECOWAS Election Observer Mission, has arrived in Abuja, Nigeria with the team of ECOWAS election observers and ensure the conduct of a peaceful and successful poll. Madam Sirleaf gave the assurance on Tuesday evening upon arrival at the Presidential Wing of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, Nigeria.
The former Liberian leader expressed the hope of meeting quickly with political leaders and the ECOWAS Commission so that she can draw guidance from them. “At a later date, the ECOWAS Observer Mission will be fully engaged, will carry out its functions and speak when it is time to speak,” she said.
With less than two weeks to the Presidential and National Assembly Elections, observer groups from the international community have begun to arrive in the country to monitor the Nigerian electoral process.
Incumbent Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress and the former Vice President of Nigeria Atiku Abubakar of the PDP are the front runners of the upcoming presidential poll billed for 19 February 2019.
Other candidates standing in the elections include Chike Ukaegbu of the AAP; Donald Duke, a former governor of Cross River State, who is the presidential candidate of the SDP; Fela Durotoye, member of Alliance for New Nigeria; and Oby Ezekwesili, former Minister of Education and leader of the Bring Back Our Girls campaign.
Others are Tope Fasua, founder and National Chairman of the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party; Rabiu Kwankwaso, former governor of Kano State; Sule Lamido, former governor of Jigawa State; Ahmed Makarfi, former chairman of the People’s Democratic Party National Caretaker Committee and Obadiah Mailafia, former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and candidate of the African Democratic Congress.
The rest of the contestants in the Nigerian presidential election are Kingsley Moghalu, former deputy governor of the CBN and professor of practice at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy; Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, oil business mogul and presidential candidate for the Peoples Trust; Remi Sonaiya, member of the KOWA Party and former university lecturer; Omoyele Sowore, human rights activist, pro-democracy campaigner and publisher of news website Sahara Reporters; and Kabiru Tanimu Turaki, former minister of special duties.
Already ECOWAS Election Observer Mission under the leadership of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has kick started its job with a meeting with the INEC chairman Yakubu Mahmood.
The Former Liberian President, who was at the INEC headquarters in Abuja, said she needs to understand the country’s electoral process and ensure the electoral body delivers on its promise of a free and fair election.
Receiving members of the ECOWAS Observation Mission team led by former Liberian President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the INEC chairman Mahmood expressed his gratitude to the ECOWAS observer group for accepting INEC’s invitation and said he is looking forward to the reports and recommendations from the mission.
The team also visited INEC headquarters in Abuja Wednesday for what it tagged ‘a Pre-Election Solidarity Mission to Nigeria.’
The former Liberian president has expressed optimism for successful 2019 general elections that will establish Nigeria’s place as a leader on the continent.
Johnson-Sirleaf said she was in the country to observe the process as the INEC Chairman Mahmood Yakubu assured the ECOWAS delegation and the international community of the commission’s readiness to conduct credible polls. The ECOWAS delegation is expected to meet with political parties and other election stakeholders ahead of the polls.
The former Liberian president also said she would share in the findings of earlier missions and consult with those who had been on ground.
“I cannot make a statement till I have had an opportunity to be able to share in the findings of earlier missions, to consult with those who have been on ground.
“At a later date, the ECOWAS Observer Mission will be fully engaged, will carry out its functions and speak when it is time to speak,” she said.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that electoral assistance to member states has been a vital part of the ECOWAS approach to promote democracy, human rights and the rule of law in the sub-region.