The West African Democracy Solidarity (WADEMOS) Network will embark on a three-day solidarity mission to Nigeria from January 25 to January 27, 2023. This is ahead of the forthcoming 25 national elections to be held in February. Since Nigeria returned to civilian rule in 1999 when it began its Fourth Republic, Nigeria has held a total of five consecutive presidential elections without interruption from the military or external forces – 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015. This will be the sixth election.
A non-partisan independent civil society-led transnational democracy solidarity network. WADEMOS consists of over 35 civil society organizations (CSOs) located in 15 West African countries. Its secretariat is based in Accra, Ghana. It is housed at the Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD) in Ghana. During their mission in Nigeria, the network’s delegation is expected to meet and interact with the ECOWAS Commission in FCT, Abuja. They are also to engage the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the preparations for the general elections.
Upcoming Nigerian elections on strengthening democracy in the region.
Additionally, the network is scheduled to hold talks with some other stakeholders, which include the Nigeria Peace Council, political parties, civil society organizations, and the media. WADEMOS Project Director, Professor Prempeh, said, “The purpose of the visit is to interact with various stakeholders on issues confronting the sub-region and the implication of the upcoming Nigerian elections on strengthening democracy in the region. As a transnational civil society led organization, it is important to have first-hand information from the people involved in the processes.”
He stated that the network is interested and concerned about the situation in the sub-region. Three national elections will be held in Nigeria in 2023. Therefore, it is important that as a regional powerhouse in the sub-region, Nigeria sets the tone for free, peaceful and transparent elections in the sub-region. In other words, Nigeria must live up to its name as the Giant of Africa, a country that is capable of setting the pace and influencing how situations turn out in other countries.
Outcome of the presidential election will impact the country and the region.
The WADEMOS Network delegation will include representatives from a number of other networks. These include the West African Election Observation Network (WAEON), the Rencontre Africaine pour la Defense des Droits de l’Homme (African Meeting for the Defense of Human Rights—RADDHO) in Senegal, the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), the Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD) in Liberia, L’Association Femmes Leadership et Development Durable (AFLED) in Mali, and the National Elections Watch (NEW) in Sierra Leone.
As the most populous nation and largest economy in Africa, the outcome of the 2023 presidential election will have a significant impact on the future political and economic direction of the country and, by extension, West Africa. WADEMOS Coordinator, Kop’ep Dabugat, said, “We aim to solidarize with civil society, particularly the WADEMOS Members in Nigeria, namely, Yiaga Africa, Center for Democracy and Development-West Africa (CDD-West Africa), Women in Politics Forum (WIPF), and the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) around their planned activities for the 2022 Nigerian general elections and also to strengthen cooperation among pro-democracy actors involved in the elections.”
Network will observe the elections in relation to West Africa.
As the network continues to advocate for free, fair, peaceful and transparent elections, they will also observe various aspects of the 2023 general elections in relation to the current context of democratic backsliding in West Africa. The Network Coordinator disclosed that the organization has noted the high level of enthusiasm particularly among the youth ahead of the elections in February 2023. “We hope that civic education activities intensify in order to promote informed and active citizen participation in the democratic process,” he said. WADEMOS will be sharing solidarity messages from democracy champions, creators and leaders of CSOs from across West Africa with the stakeholders in Nigeria as part of their agenda to regionalize all national elections in the sub-region.