Former President John Dramani Mahama is heading the West African Elders Forum (WAEF) in Nigeria as the country chooses a new leader on Saturday, February 25.
Interacting with journalists on the eve of elections in the federal capital, Abuja, Mr Mahama said the former West African leaders are in the country to ensure that there is a peaceful outcome to the polls.
He intimated that they were invited by the federal government to witness the polls and so far they are impressed with the commitment of all the 18 candidates to ensure violence-free elections.
“This year’s election is attracting this level of interest because Nigeria’s success and progress in this regard will go a long way in stabilizing democracy, promoting good governance and maintaining peace in the sub-region,” the former Ghanaian President told journalists on Friday, February 24.
“We are pleased with the level of preparedness by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the security forces policing the elections and other stakeholders involved in the elections, towards conducting a free and fair exercise.”
He disclosed that last December, the Forum deployed a three-man delegation to the country to undertake a pre-election mediation mission.
The delegation was made up of former President of Sierra Leone, Ernest Vai Koroma, former Vice President of the Gambia Fatoumata Tambajang and former President of the ECOWAS Commission and former Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General and Head of the UNOWAS Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas.
During the mission, the delegation met with President Muhammadu Buhari, INEC Chair Prof Mahmood Yakubu, National Security Adviser, presidential candidates, political parties, civil society leaders, President of the ECOWAS Commission, development partners and other stakeholders.
Mr Mahama further disclosed that meetings have been held with former Nigeria Head of State General Abdulsalami Abubakar and other former leaders, all to ensure peaceful polls.
“We are pleased that Gen. Abubakar is a member of our the Elders of Forum, just as we also have former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan as our members.
“We will also visit other key stakeholders just to encourage them in the job they are doing to ensure free, fair and peaceful elections.”
He assured all that members of the Forum will visit a few polling stations in Abuja to observe election day procedures and results collation processes while others will stay after Saturday’s elections “to engage key stakeholders, if need be, towards guaranteeing peaceful outcomes”.
“This means that some of our members will remain in the country until the election procedures are peacefully concluded.”