By Paul Ejime
August 2, 2018.
The delegation of the ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC) led by its governing board President, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, met with officials of the UNDP Office in Bissau on August 1st to discuss Guinea Bissau’s November parliamentary election and areas of support for the national electoral Commission, CNE.
During exchanges with the UNDP Deputy Resident Representative Gabriel Labao Dava, the ECONEC chief and Chair of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), noted that peaceful and credible elections in Guinea Bissau would contribute to the consolidation of peace not only in the country, but in the entire region.
This, he said, would enable the withdrawal of the ECOWAS military mission in Guinea Bissau, ECOMIB, after normalcy would have returned to the country.
Prof Yakubu mentioned Nigeria’s willingness to provide, at Guinea Bissau’s request, logistic support including vehicles and motorcycles, adding that INEC was also contemplating voter registration support to CNE.
The UNDP is coordinating international donor support through a basket fund for the Guinea Bissau election.
The Deputy Resident representative briefed the ECONEC delegation, which includes officials of Nigeria’s independent national electoral Commission, INEC, Chaired by Prof. Yakubu, on UNDP’s efforts in funds mobilization, the shortfall and the critical voter registration challenge confronting the conduct of the November legislative poll in Guinea Bissau.
Attributing the slow preparation for the polls largely to “lack of political will,” he, however, described as “light at the end of the tunnel,” the gesture by Nigeria and INEC.
In continuation of its latest Solidarity and Needs Assessment Mission, which began in Senegal on 31st July, the ECONEC team will proceed from Bissau to Togo on Saturday en route to Abuja on 5th August.
Under Prof Yakubu’s leadership from last year, ECONEC in line with its mandate to support members planning elections, has undertaken similar missions to Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea. It recently co-hosted an International Conference in Abuja on the use of technology in elections and has also commissioned a study on the cost of elections in West Africa.