April 11, 2018 By Elizabeth A. Kaine
With funding from German Development Agency GIZ, the Economic Community of West African States, on Tuesday (10 April), unveiled a book on a decade of ECOWAS electoral assistance in West Africa and also commended ECOWAS electoral assistance for adding value to elections in the region.
According to Head of GIZ Support Programme to the ECOWAS Commission, Ludwig Kirchner, with ECOWAS Electoral Assistance elections in recent past in the region have seen great improvement and the German government, through GIZ, will continue to support that laudable initiative.
He was speaking during the presentation of the book published by the ECOWAS department of political affairs, peace and security at the on-going Abuja international conference on opportunities and challenges in the use of technology in election.
ECOWAS Director of Political Affairs, Dr. Remi Ajibewa, outlined the various forms of electoral assistance provided to member states, which include financial and logistical support, observation, security, needs assessment, fact-finding and follow-up missions, mediation and preventive diplomacy.
According to author of the Book, Paul Ejime, an international Media and Communications Specialist, the work is a rich resource material on ECOWAS’ laudable initiatives at consolidating democracy through the promotion of credible elections and using electoral assistance as a tool for conflict prevention.
The book chronicles ECOWAS electoral Assistance which started some two decades ago, the progress so far, challenges, lessons learnt and the way forward.
The publication also documented the commitment of regional leaders to democracy and good government, which drives initiatives such as the electoral assistance, engagement of civil society, with a range of interviews, including with Prof. Attahiru Jega, former Chair of Nigeria’s Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), who supervised Nigeria’s 2015 general elections, Dr. Kwaduo Afari-Gyan, former Chair of Ghana’s Electoral Commission and Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, former executive secretary and president of ECOWAS Commission, who is now head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS).
There are also insightful perspectives by former ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Mr. Halima Ahmed, who penned the foreword, Pro. Mahmood Yakubyu, INEC chair and president of the governing board of ECOWAS network of electoral commissions (ECOWAS), with his now famous quotation that “it is better and more cost-effective to deploy ECOWAS in peace time, than to deploy ECOMOG” (the regional military force) after failed election.”
The book also contains views by Francis Oke, Head of ECOWAS Electoral Assistance Division, Chukwuemeka Eze, Executive Director of the West Africa Network for Peace Building( WANEP), Election Management Bodies (EMBS) in the region, including those of Burkina Faso and Cape Verde on election related issues such as political inclusivity, gender, youth and persons with disability, the role of the media, including social media performance during elections, and the challenges of technology deployment in the electoral process.