Former President of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma has called on Nigerians to ensure that their 2023 elections are credible and conducted in a violence-free atmosphere. He said this will signal to the rest of the region that democracy has come to stay and discourage the trend of democratic recession in West Africa.

Koroma, who happens to be the Head of the West Africa Elders’ Forum (WAEF) Pre-election Mediation Mission made this statement at a news conference while presenting the forum’s post-mission statement on Wednesday 7 December, 2022 in Nigeria’s capital Abuja.

Koroma emphasized that the 2023 general election in Nigeria is of great significance for West Africa and the entire African continent.

“We call on all Nigerians to exercise their rights to civic participation both before and during the coming elections without fear while also respecting the rights of others to do the same,” he said.

He added that, “Our region, West Africa, of late, has experienced some reversal in democratic practice with unconstitutional changes of government in some countries. At the heart of the instability within the sub-region are the issue of disputed elections and citizen disaffection.”

Former President Koroma noted that the 2023 general elections in Nigeria is crucial not just for Nigeria alone but for West Africa and the African continent.

“They are the first of three to be held in the region next year. The successful conduct of peaceful, credible, inclusive, free and fair elections here will set a good example for others,” he said.

“This will not only send a message that democracy is here to stay in West Africa but will also resuscitate hope at a time when the sub-region is plagued with various challenges,” he added.

The former President maintained that WAEF will stay engaged and accompany the process before, during and after the general elections until a smooth and peaceful transition is achieved.

Koroma further noted that although some stakeholders expressed some concerns and misgivings towards the forthcoming polls, the mission got assurances from relevant authorities that all concerns would be adequately addressed ahead of the elections.

He said, “We note that although some stakeholders expressed some concerns and misgivings, we were assured by relevant authorities that all concerns will be adequately addressed ahead of the elections.

“We are optimistic that a secure and free environment and a level playing field will be guaranteed for all citizens and political actors, irrespective of political affiliations.”