6th Biennial General Assembly of the ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC)

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, represented His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari at the 6th Biennial General Assembly of the ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC) opens with a symposium on inclusivity on Monday 5th August, 2019.

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The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, delivering the speech of His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari at the 6th Biennial General Assembly of the ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC) opens with a symposium on inclusivity on Monday 5th August, 2019.

=================== ADDRESS BY MUHAMMADU BUHARI, PRESIDENT, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, AT THE FORMAL OPENING OF THE SYMPOSIUM/BIENNIAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE ECOWAS NETWORK OF ELECTORAL COMISSIONS (ECONEC) HELD AT THE TRANSCORP HILTON, ABUJA, ON MONDAY, 5TH AUGUST 2019

Protocol

  1. It gives me great pleasure to address this meeting of election managers and experts from the West African sub-region and beyond. ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC) being a platform for mutual assistance in the promotion of credible elections through experience sharing, peer learning and capacity building brings out the best electoral standards and practices in the ECOWAS region.

  2. It is significant to note that the 6th Biennial General Assembly of the ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC) opens with a symposium on inclusivity. I am glad to note that among the speakers at this symposium are some of the youngest female members of parliament from different countries in our sub-region. It is equally noteworthy that persons with disabilities, among them a member of parliament, are also actively participating as speakers.

  3. This is a very encouraging sign of our steady progress in ensuring that all segments of our society have a voice in the management of public affairs, especially through the democratic process. It is also an indication that in spite of the progress achieved so far, more needs to be done by Governments through legislation, by political parties through affirmative action in the nomination of candidates for election and by all stakeholders through unrelenting advocacy for greater inclusion of all segments of society in the democratic and electoral processes.

  4. It is for this reason that before the last General Election in Nigeria, I assented to a constitutional amendment bill that reduced the age required of a candidate to contest for some elective offices. This followed the strong but peaceful advocacy by young men and women around the slogan of “Not-too-young-to-run” as the bill passed by the National Assembly was popularly called.
  5. On the historic occasion of signing the bill into law on 31st May, 2018, I hosted young persons from all the States of the Federation. It is gratifying to see some of them here today and even more gratifying to note that many young men were elected to our National and State Houses of Assembly in Nigeria as a direct result of this proactive campaign. I want to assure you that this is just the beginning. We should continue to ensure that not only the youth but other categories of citizens such as persons living with disabilities and those internally displaced for a variety of reasons are integrated into the electoral process in Nigeria in particular and other countries in our sub-region in general.

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  1. In doing so, we will continue to support democratic consolidation in the sub-region. One way of doing so is for the Election Management Bodies (EMBs) to take the lead through peer support. I have followed with keen interest, the efforts of ECONEC in this regard. In the last two years, ECONEC, under the leadership of the Nigerian Electoral Body Chairman, has been a strong advocate for Nigeria’s bilateral electoral assistance to countries in the sub-region based on need.

  2. Within the limits of available resources, Nigeria has responded by providing material and technical support to ECONET. The more recent examples include logistics support to Sierra Leone, deployment of experts from INEC on the request of ECOWAS and the United Nations to assist in cleaning up the voters’ register in Liberia ahead of the Presidential run-off election in 2017 and the provision of voter registration equipment to Guinea Bissau which facilitated the conduct of parliamentary election in March this year.

  3. I want to assure you of Nigeria’s continued assistance because credible election in our sub-region is not only good for democracy and periodic elections, it is also good for overall sub-regional stability. We cannot allow the failure of the political process to destabilize our countries to the extent that regional military intervention becomes inevitable as is unfortunately still the case in the sub-region.

  4. With the successful conduct of parliamentary elections in Guinea Bissau in March this year, the next big step is the Presidential election. I urge ECONEC to continue to work with ECOWAS by engaging with all stakeholders in the country for a successful Presidential election scheduled for 24th November, 2019 that will restore stability and eventually facilitate the withdrawal of troops.

  5. Before I conclude, let me register Nigeria’s appreciation to the development partners for their support to electoral and democratic processes in our sub-region. Let me also express our appreciation to the United Nations through the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel, His Excellency Mohammed Ibn Chambas, who has been such a pillar of support to peace, security and good governance in our sub-region, at the diplomatic level.

  6. On this note, it is my pleasure to declare this symposium and the 6th General Assembly of the ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC) open.

  7. I wish you successful deliberations.