The Nigerian government on Wednesday pledged to give “all necessary assistance” to ensure a successful conduct of elections in Sierra Leone.
Vice President Namadi Sambo told the visiting Chief Electoral Officer and Chairman of the Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone, Mrs. Christiana Thorpe, in Abuja.
According to Sambo, “We are in full support with the issues that have to do with elections, particularly in West Africa and in Africa in general. We will give all necessary support and all that is needed to ensure that the population is taken along in choosing their leadership and we are glad to participate and promote this value in West Africa, throughout Africa and the world.”
Sambo noted that the first major issue was the will of the Sierra Leonean government to conduct free and fair election, which it has expressed.
He stated that everyone was proud of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, in ensuring that President Goodluck Jonathan’s promise of “free and fair election and one man one vote” was kept. He advised the Sierra Leone Election Commission Chairman to get honest and credible people who would do the right thing, saying “From what you said, I can see that Sierra Leone is very ready to do the right thing in choosing its leadership.”
Sambo reiterated that “Government would consider favorably the necessity to give all necessary support to the Election Commission in Sierra Leone and would encourage partnership with Nigeria’s INEC. Our belief is that African problems are best solved by Africans themselves.”
He stated that Nigeria’s INEC had the capacity to support Sierra Leone, especially in the area of registration of voters.
Thorpe said her delegation was on a four-day visit to Nigeria to understudy the processes INEC used in the registration of voters as they are about to introduce the bio-metric registration system in preparation for their election next year.
Thorpe said “This is the first time the system is about to be introduced in Sierra Leone. We have carefully followed the election process in Nigeria and the hurdles the election commission had encountered and we were satisfied with the outcome of the elections. This informed our decision to borrow the Nigerian model.”
She Urged the Nigerian government to assist her country with vehicles, warehouses and computers. She added that during the last election held in Sierra Leone in 2007, they used containers as warehouses.
She also requested that INEC assist in providing data capturing experts who can work with them during the voters’ registration exercise, noting that this would be the first time they would register and count votes outside the capital city.
Thorpe said despite the West African country’s slow recovery from war and with very little to represent an electoral commission, they are determined to get it right and will need all the help they can get from countries in the region.