MONROVIA – Drawing some lessons from the conduct of the recently concluded general elections in Nigeria, the Director of Finance and Administration of the ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja, Nigeria Chief Dr. William DeiyanTowah, has said democracy in Africa is maturing by the way elections are conducted and the responses from the citizens towards the outcome of the process that produce both winners and losers alike and commended Nigerians for the manner they conducted themselves both during and after the electoral process.
Dr. Towah made the statement in Abuja to newsmen at the end of the electoral exercises covering the presidential, national assembly, gubernatorial, and state-wide assembly elections held in the 36 states of the federation and the federal capital territory, Abuja when he was asked to give his impression of the democratic expression of the will of the people through the ballot box.
“On a general level, one can safely say it is a radical departure from the past in Africa, where outcomes of elections are marred by violence and controversies. You hardly find elections being conducted and winners announced without some sort of objections from the opposition or those who felt dissatisfied with the process.
“But there have been some changes. We have witnessed election results being declared, winners announced, and losers coming up boldly to congratulate the winners and promising to work with the winners to move their countries forward.
“On a specific note, I want to commend the Nigerians for the manner in which they have conducted themselves before, during and after the various elections. Why there may be some issues which is a normal thing in every election because you cannot have a perfect election, those who have pointed out their dissatisfaction have decided to explore the legal option to challenge the results rather than taking the law into their own hands. This, to me, should be commended”, the seasoned diplomat said.
Chief Towah himself, who was involved in the process as an international observer from the regional body, ECOWAS, said a lot was at stake with the Nigerian election as the biggest democracy in Africa and a leading pacesetter for the rule of law and promotion of good governance as well as an inspiration to other smaller African countries struggling to embrace genuine democracy.
“The whole world was focusing on Nigeria because it is our biggest democracy, the most populous country and a nation richly endowed with a lot of natural resources and human capital. If you are a country of such and more is expected of you, people will be looking at how you go about conducting elections that will be accepted not only by your own citizens but also by the global community for which you are expected to meet the benchmark of international best practice.
“And again, as I said before, there could be issues but we must continue to commend the Nigerians for this show of maturity and patriotism instead of opting for the ugly side of conflict. At the end of the day, I am sure they will respect the final results from the courts for those who are complaining”, Chief Dr. Towah said.
Responding to a question whether he foresaw any unfortunate circumstances at the end of the Nigerian elections, the Liberian born diplomat who holds a high Nigerian traditional title as Egwumba 1 of the Ibagwa Nike Kingdom of Enugu State, Nigeria said he never doubted the credentials of the Independent National Elections Commission (INEC) to conduct the elections that Nigerians will appreciate and work with as “the process goes through improvement from one electoral cycle to another.”
“The quantum of work put in, the enthusiasm to deliver the best results, the zeal of the Nigerians and the commitment and support of the government all combined to get where the exercise has reached and from the post-election evaluation from the international community, which includes the European Union, the Commonwealth, the AU, ECOWAS, among others we can see that the verdicts have been good so far. Kudos to Nigeria”, he said.
Asked what could be the lesson learnt by Liberia from the Nigerian experience, Dr. Towah who had a flourishing career in the public service in Liberia said a lot will be learned and it is hopeful that Liberia that has gone through 3 successful electoral cycles since the end of the protracted civil war will do the needful to embrace peace and the respect of the wishes of the people as well as the rule of law before, during and after the ensuing October 10, 2023, general election.
“Of course, there are lessons to be learnt especially from the perspective of the citizens respecting and accepting the outcome of the results and for those who may have grievances, they can go through the legal process to seek redress.
“But let me remind you that Liberia has conducted three elections and received resounding commendations from the international community. Where there were issues, aggrieved parties sought the legal option to get redress.
“This is the fourth election and we are expected to see improvement from the lessons learnt from all the three previous elections conducted,” the ECOWAS Diplomat concluded.