Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
Ahead of the parliamentary elections scheduled for Sunday, March 10, 2019, the Chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), President Muhammadu Buhari, has dispatched a special envoy, Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, to Guinea Bissau.
Onyeama, in company with the representative of the Chairman, ECOWAS Mediation Committee on Guinea Bissau, President Alpha Conde of Guinea Conakry and President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean Claude Brou, met with key stakeholders including President Jose Mario Vaz.
Media aide to Onyeama, Sarah Sanda, in a statement in Abuja, said while receiving Onyeama, President Vaz handed over a congratulatory letter to him for onward delivery to President Muhammadu Buhari, congratulating him on his re-election.
The visit by the ECOWAS team, according to Sanda, is the fifth so far led by Onyeama as a special envoy of ECOWAS chairman to engage stakeholders in the country which had been engulfed in a long drawn out political crisis.
The team, on the directive of the ECOWAS chairman, has sustained engagement with stakeholders overtime to find an end to the situation.
The delegation met behind closed doors with the Prime Minister, Aristedes Gomes, before heading to the electoral commission to meet the Chairman, Jose Pedro Sambu, and his team.
Sambu explained that the issues surrounding the blank electoral roll in some areas had been resolved.
“We are sent as Special Envoy of President Muhammadu Buhari, who as you know, is the current Chair of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government.
“We are here again to find out the situation with regard to the elections. We are happy we met with the President, Prime Minister and the Chairman of the electoral commission. We were able to see and learn firsthand, the fantastic progress made towards holding the legislative elections on Sunday, March 10. All the technical aspects are fully in order. The voters’ electoral roll is now complete; all the 761,000 or so voters are on the roll, the security situation is good, the political situation, with all the parties, is excellent; everybody is fully on board, so it is very heart-warming,” Onyeama said.
The minister added: “We are delighted as ECOWAS and we congratulate the president, prime minister, all the political parties and all stakeholders including the electoral commission for the excellent work that has been done.
“The president has just assured us that definitely come Sunday, March 10, the elections will take place. This will be the first peaceful elections in Guinea Bissau for many, many years; so it will be a watershed – a decisive moment in the history of Guinea Bissau. We are very hopeful and confident that all the challenges and conflict in this country are very much behind us and we look forward to a brand-new future in this wonderful country for the people of this country.”
Onyeama further reassured that ECOWAS would remain very engaged with the government and people of Guinea Bissau as they march forward on Sunday to have the elections.
Recall that Nigeria had supported the electoral process in Guinea Bissau with an additional donation of seven vehicles, 350 electoral kits and a cash donation of $500,000.