Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, yesterday, said the undemocratic takeover of government in some West African countries had posed a great challenge to electoral umpires in the sub-region.
Addressing the plenary of the ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions’ (ECONEC) seventh Biennial General Assembly in Accra, Ghana, Yakubu described the development as a “ democratic and electoral retrogression, which underscores the need for free, fair and credible elections.”
“We are facing great challenges. We are having democratic and electoral retrogression in the sub-region, and we have had undemocratic takeover in one or two places. Only a few years ago, we went round the sub-region saying that for the first time in the history of West Africa, all the countries had democracies. But today, we cannot say so,” he added.
According to him, the development imposes a challenge on electoral commissioners to be more vigilant, noting that is where ECONEC comes in.
He went on: “We must continue to support one another to conduct the kind of elections we all aspire for. I recall that before the second round of elections in Niger Republic, the Republic of Ghana provided support, and I know that other countries are supporting one another as well.
“I would encourage us to continue to share not only ideas, but also resources. No one can do it alone. We can make ECONEC what we want it to be by working cooperatively. I urge all of us to continue to work as brothers and sisters for the improvement of the electoral process in the sub-region.”
The 15-member organisation includes electoral commissions from Nigeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d’ Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana and Guinea.
Others are Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.