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President Ouedraogo salutes Nigerians, urges consolidation of democracy in West Africa

The President of the ECOWAS Commission H.E. Kadré Desire Ouédraogo has congratulated Nigerians for the successful and peaceful conduct of the 28 March 2015 presidential and Federal Legislative elections.

Speaking on National Television Programme “Good Morning Nigeria,” on Friday 3rd April 2015, the ECOWAS chief also felicitated with the President-elect Gen. Muhammadu Buhari and President Goodluck Jonathan for his humility and Statesmanship in conceding defeat even before the announcement of the poll results. He also commended the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

“Nigeria is a key member of ECOWAS, with the largest economy in Africa and the most populous nation in the continent,” President Ouédraogo said. “What happens here has a great impact on our region.”

“We therefore call on all Nigerians to maintain the peace,” declared the ECOWAS chief, who described the peaceful and orderly conduct by Nigerians during the successful electoral process capped by the statesmanship demonstrated by President Jonathan as examples not only for Africans but the entire world.

He said the Nigerian example is particularly significant with notable lessons for the consolidation of democracy in the ECOWAS region which has four other major elections this year in Togo, Guinea, Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire.

To demonstrate its interest, solidarity and support for Nigeria towards achieving a free, fair, transparent and credible electoral process, the ECOWAS Commission first dispatched a fact-finding Mission to the country last October headed by former Ghanaian President John Kufuor, who later led the ECOWAS 250-strong Long-term and Short-term Election Observation Mission that monitored the electoral process.

The Chairman of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, Ghana’s President John Dramani Mahama and President Ouédraogo himself, also met separately with major Nigerian political stakeholders including President Jonathan, Gen. Buhari, and INEC Chairman Prof Attahiru Jega to reiterate the goodwill message of peace.

President Ouédraogo further reaffirmed the position of the ECOWAS observation Mission in its Preliminary Declaration stating that in spite of some hitches, the 28 March elections were generally “peaceful, clean, transparent and credible.”
He explained that ECOWAS’ involvement in the observation of polls in Member States is pursuant to the provisions of the regional Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance which underlines zero-tolerance for ascension to power other than through the Constitution means.

On security, President Ouédraogo said that ECOWAS continues to work tirelessly for peace and stability of the region, including fighting terrorism and insurgency through its Counter-Terrorism Strategy and Mechanism, which informed the organization’s facilitation of the Draft Resolution on the Multi-national Joint Force against Boko Haram in Nigeria.

“Without peace and security, there cannot be socio-economic development and regional integration and this is why we continue to work and support our Member States to ensure a peaceful, stable and secure ECOWAS region,” he added.

As ECOWAS marks its 40th Anniversary this year, the President paid glowing tributes to its founding fathers, especially Nigeria’s Gen. Yakubu Gowon and the late Togolese President Gnassingbe Eyadema, among others, for their foresight and revolutionary initiative.

While the 15-nation Community with combined estimated population of 300 million people may not have achieved all its set objectives, the ECOWAS chief said the region should be proud of its many accomplishments including its free movement visa-free regime, infrastructural development, Trade Liberation Scheme and the ECOWAS Biometric National Identification Card which will be rolled out in 2016, designed to eliminate impediments to citizens’ establishment and residence in countries other than their own.

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