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ECONEC gets woman, honours Nigeria’s Prof. Yakubu

The ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC) has ended its 6th Biennial General Assembly in Abuja, Nigeria with wide-ranging decisions, including the election of Dr Maria do Rosario Lopes Pereira Goncalves, Chair of Cabo Verde’s electoral Commission, CNE, as President of the Steering Committee for the next two years.

In accordance with provisions of the Network’s Statute the 6-7 August General Assembly also adopted a unanimous Resolution conferring the title of Honorary President of ECONEC on Prof Mahmood Yakubu in recognition of his exemplary leadership and contributions to the promotion of democracy and good governance in the ECOWAS region. Prof Yakubu, Chair of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) led ECONEC in the past two years following his election as President of the Steering Committee at the 5th General Assembly in Cotonou, Benin Republic in March 2017.

The Abuja General Assembly, which was preceded by an International Symposium on Political Inclusivity both declared open by President Muhammadu Buhari, also adopted ECONEC’s 2017-2019 Activity and Financial Reports prepared by the Secretariat under the supervision of the Steering Committee.

The Assembly commended the outgoing Steering Committee and the Staff of the Secretariat for their commitment and sacrifice noting that under Prof Yakubu’s leadership the Committee had inherited zero assets but recorded tremendous achievements.

INEC provided the Network with an equipped, functional Permanent Secretariat, and also raised its visibility with enhanced web presence.

The General Assembly noted that the need for sustainability and consolidation of the gains achieved was one of the reasons that informed the conferment of the Honorary Presidency on Prof. Yakubu.

Respecting the principle of the Network’s linguistic balance (Anglophone, Francophone and Lusophone) as enshrined in its statutes the following other members were elected to the new 5-member Steering Committee:

1st Vice President – Mr Newton Ahmed Barry, Chair CENI, Burkina Faso;
2nd Vice President – Mr Momarr Alieu Njai, Chair of IEC The Gambia;
Treasurer – Mr Amadou Ba – Chair CENI, Mali; and
Deputy Treasurer – Madam Jean Mensa, Chair EC Ghana.

R-L Mr. Amadou Ba, Mr. Momarr Alieu Njai, Dr. Maria do Rosario Lopes Pereira Goncalves, Mr. Newton Ahmed Barry, representative of Madam, Jean Mensa, and Professor Mahmood Yakubu

The Steering Committee will be assisted by the Permanent Secretary of the Network and the Head of the ECOWAS Electoral Assistance Division (EAD), Mr Sourou Francis Gabriel Oke, with the next regular Biennial General Assembly scheduled to take place in Praia, capital of Cabo Verde (Cape Verde) in 2021.

The official opening of the Symposium and General Assembly was attended by many dignitaries including the Secretary to the Government of the Federation Mr Boss Mustapha, who represented President Buhari, Senator Kabiru Gaya, who represented the President of Nigeria’s Senate, Deputy Speaker Ahmed Idris Wase, who represented the Speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives Vice President of the ECOWAS Commission Madam Finda Koroma, who read the keynote address and a representative
of the Commission’s President.

Others were Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Secretary General’s Special Representative and Head of the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), European Union’s Head of Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Mr Ketil Karlson, President of the European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES) Ms Monica Frassoni, Head of Programme of the German Agency for International Cooperation, GIZ, Mr Christian Voelkel and rtd. Chief Justice Hamid Mahamoud Hamid, Chair of the Electoral Commission, Zanzibar and Head of the Electoral Commissions Forum of Southern African Development Community (ECF-SADC).

Mr Yong-Hi Kim, President of the Election Risk Management Institute (ERMI) also graced both events organised by ECONEC in collaboration with INEC, Nigeria and the European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES) with funding from the EU and the German Government. A highlight of the events was the presentation of two ECONEC Publications – the Report of the Study on Cost of Elections and ECONEC’s Activities in Support of Credible Elections in West Africa.

ECONEC was set up in 2008, among other objectives, to promote credible elections, peer support and experience sharing, strengthening the capacity of its 15-member Election Management Bodies (EMBs) and also to encourage gradual harmonization of electoral frameworks for the consolidation of democracy and good governance in the ECOWAS region in accordance with international best practices.

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