The Chair of the Commonwealth election observers, former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has said the Sunday elections will only be peaceful if losing candidates gracefully concede defeat.
He said it was equally important to realise that, for the poll to be free and fair all stakeholders, namely, National Electoral Commission (NEC), political parties, police as well as voters must play their part.
Jonathan, who was defeated by former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari in Nigerian general election in March, and conceded defeat, told journalists in Dar es Salaam yesterday that the Commonwealth Observers Group started its work in the country yesterday and expects to meet with a wide range of stakeholders including NEC officials, political parties, civil society organisations, the diplomatic community as well as other international and national observer groups.
“If you lose, accept defeat,” he said, warning that any attempt to reject the will of the people can only lead to chaos.
The Nigerian former president insisted that Commonwealth Observers Group will issue an interim statement on the preliminary findings shortly after the elections and a final report will be prepared in Tanzania.
“We will also submit the report on the Tanzanian elections to the Secretary General of the Commonwealth and subsequently shared with relevant stakeholders and the public. The group is scheduled to depart in Tanzania on 31st October 2015,” he said.
He added: “I am greatly honoured and privileged to have been asked by the Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma to lead the Commonwealth Observers Group to Tanzania’s general election that will be taking place on 25th October 2015”
He pointed out that during their time in Tanzania, they will seek to assess the pre-election environment, polling day activities and the post election period, against the backdrop of Tanzania’s national legislation, regional and international commitments.
“Commonwealth Observers Group in Tanzania was constituted following an invitation extended by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the United Republic of Tanzania, and we will work according to the rules and regulations,” he said.
Jonathan noted: “Our group comprises of 14 eminent persons drawn from across the different regions of the Commonwealth countries including Africa, Asia and the Caribbean, The group which includes experts in politics, election, media, conflict prevention and youth affairs. We arrived in Tanzania on Monday and will stay here until 31st October 2015.”
He went further saying that the Commonwealth Observers Group will perform their observation role with impartiality, independence and transparency.
He disclosed that on Friday this week, members of the Commonwealth Observers Group will deploy in small teams to various regions across the country to observe preparations ahead of the poling day.
He also said that on Election Day, members of the Commonwealth Observers Group will observe opening, voting, closing, counting and the results management process.
“If all parties including the National Electoral Commission, Political Parties, and Police Forces will play its role, nothing will stops Tanzania to record a free and fair election this year,” he said.
He insisted: “We hope that our group’s presence in Tanzania will demonstrate the commonwealth’s solidarity with the people of this country. The success of these elections depends on every stakeholder playing their part in the peaceful, inclusive and transparent manner, we are very confidence that we will achieve the goal.”
However, The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 53 independent and equal sovereign states. It is home to 2.2 billion citizens of which over 60 percent are under the ages of 30.
The Commonwealth includes some of the world’s largest, smallest, richest and poorest countries, Spanning five regions. The thirty one of its members are small states, many of them island nations.
Commonwealth countries are supported by an active network of more than 80 intergovernmental, civil societies, cultural and professional organisations.
In the same vein, Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, has hailed the appointment of former President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan as leader of a 33-nation observer mission to the Sunday, October 25, 2015 general election to be held in Tanzania, describing it as “a global recognition of the former president’s democratic credentials.”
He said: “Jonathan’s appointment to lead the Commonwealth observer team, comprising 33 countries, is recognition of his remarkable role in the last presidential election, in which he conceded defeat, thereby saving Nigeria from catastrophe that even the international community thought would befall the country.”
Speaking through his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, Governor Fayose said; “Jonathan should be celebrated and I am happy that the world is beginning to give him the deserved recognition and celebration less than five months that he left office.”
He said Dr Jonathan’s courage and spirit of sportsmanship in accepting the outcome of the presidential election despite the obvious shortcomings saved the nation from political chaos and violence, adding that “Jonathan provided the foundation on which democracy is standing in Nigeria today and one is not surprised that he is being asked to lead the Commonwealth election observer team from 33 nations to Tanzania.
“Even if those who benefitted from his show of love and commitment to the peace and development of Nigeria are paying him back with persecution and victimisation, I am happy that the former President and those who worked with him are being celebrated globally.
“I therefore congratulate Dr Jonathan and urge those currently holding power in Abuja to emulate him by putting Nigeria and its interests first.”