By Ismaila Chafe
President Muhammadu Buhari has called on leaders in West Africa to do all within their powers to ensure that elections are conducted in their countries in an atmosphere of trust, freedom and transparency.
The President’s media aide, Malam Garba Shehu, in a statement, said Buhari made the call on Tuesday in a goodwill message to the Government and people of Liberia as he joined other world leaders on the occasion of the 175th Independence Anniversary of the West African nation.
According to the president, this is the only way the sub-region can be insulated from the scourge of unconstitutional take overs that reared its head in three countries recently.
The president affirmed that democracy and good governance must take its roots on the African continent to sustain peace, stability and development while leaders must redouble their efforts to guarantee the irreversibility of democracy.
“I would like to use the opportunity of this event to address an important issue affecting three countries in the ECOWAS region; Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
“All the three nations have National Elections in 2023. In Nigeria, we are working towards a free, fair, transparent, credible and acceptable outcome of elections and their results.
”It is important and necessary for all our countries to key into these resolves as they are indispensable to peace and stability in our countries and sub-region.
”The deepening of democracy and good governance are essential antidotes to check-mate unconstitutional change of governments as we sadly witnessed within the last three years in three countries within our sub-region.
”We must strengthen our efforts to guarantee the irreversibility of democracy in our sub-region and Africa,” he said.
The Nigerian leader used the opportunity to recall Nigeria’s leading roles that pulled the country back from its fratricidal insurrection in the 90s.
According to the president, his presence at the celebrations underscores his strong belief in cementing existing bilateral ties between Nigeria and Liberia.
He said: “Nigeria’s contributions to the survival and safety of Liberia are well known.
”The dark period of your country’s civil war from 1989 to 1997, was a period that Nigeria invested hugely for peace in Liberia and indeed stability in the rest of the ECOWAS sub-region. May those dark days never re-surface in our countries and sub-region.”
Buhari commended his Liberian counterpart, Dr George Weah, for his demonstration of love for the country and the pursuance of peace, unity and progress, as evidenced by people-oriented projects executed with the sole purpose of taking the country to greater heights within the limited resources available.
He, however, urged the Liberian leader to do more, assuring him of Nigeria’s continued support in this regard.
“Your Excellency’s policy of development launched in 2018 as well as the recently launched youth empowerment programmes, targeted at comprehensively addressing the problems of youth restiveness in Liberia.
”These are equally aimed at rescuing the disadvantaged youths (ZOGOS in local parlance) from drug addictions and other forms of social vices and transforming them into useful members of the Liberian society, are clearly very appropriate policies to lift up the most vulnerable.
“Permit me to assure you and all Liberians that Nigeria, as a good partner and a dependable ally, would continue to support you in these efforts, within the limit of our resources.
”This brings to the fore, the need for strengthening and broadening the levels of collaboration and cooperation between our two countries, both bilaterally and multilaterally, within the ECOWAS, AU and the UN, in order to adequately tackle the common national, sub-regional and global challenges.”
The President of Liberia, George Weah, thanked President Buhari and other West African leaders for their attendance.
He particularly told the Nigerian leader: “Thank you Mr President and the good people of Nigeria. Without your support we would not have had peace.” (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Isaac Aregbesola