At a ceremony held at the offices of the Niger Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) in Niamey on 17th February 2021, and on behalf of the President of the Republic of Ghana and Chairman of the Authority of Heads of States and Governments of ECOWAS, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, as well as the Electoral Commission of Ghana, the Ambassador of Ghana to Niger, H.E Mr Jonathan R. Magnusen, officially presented a donation of One Hundred Thousand (100,000) units of election thumbprints pads from the Republic of Ghana to the Republic of Niger, to support the second round of the Presidential elections of Niger scheduled to be held on Sunday 21st February 2021.
In his comments prior to the presentation, Ambassador Magnusen noted the satisfaction of the government and people of Ghana with the democratic path embarked upon by the brotherly people of Niger that resulted in the elections of December 2020, the outcome of which has been hailed by stakeholder civil society groups, election observers and the international community to be generally free, fair and credible. He further underscored the high turnout at the elections, particularly the participation of women, as a demonstration of the will of the people of Niger to reinforce and consolidate democracy, good governance, stronger democratic institutions, respect for human rights, justice and rule of law in the country. Describing the donation as another milestone in the long history of brotherliness, friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance that has characterized relations between two peoples and countries for more than a century, he recalled the pioneering efforts of the first Presidents of the two countries, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and Mr. Hamani Diori, to unite the African continent with a common purpose of African emancipation, human, social and economic development, and a vision of all Africans regarding themselves as one people with a common destiny, regardless the cultural and linguistic differences as well as the artificial borders that separate us as a result of our colonial experiences. Ambassador Magnusen paid tribute to the political parties, the state, parastatal and civil society institutions that have played a significant role in facilitating the democratic process. He highlighted the role of CENI in this process, and expressed the admiration and commendation of the government and the Electoral Commission of Ghana to the President and staff of CENI for their outstanding efforts to ensure a successful election in December 2020, despite the security, infrastructural, logistics and other challenges. Noting that Ghana is often described as a beacon of democracy in the subregion, he noted that Ghana’s experience has taught us that democracy cannot thrive and be consolidated without respect for the will of the people. In that regard, he paid tribute to His Excellency President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger for his decision not to seek an extension of his constitutional two-term mandate, a decision that has earned him the respect and admiration of the international community, and placed him in the record books as the first President of Niger to supervise the handing over of political power from a democratically-elected President to another democratically-elected President.
In his concluding remarks, Ambassador Magnusen explained that the donation of election materials comes from the brotherly people of Ghana as a token expression of friendship and solidarity with the people of Niger, and hoped that it will complement the efforts of the Nigerien government to ensure a successful free, fair and credible second-round Presidential elections to usher in a constitutional successor to the current government. He added that despite the impact of Covid-19 on her economy, Ghana is proud to make a modest contribution to support the consolidation of democracy in Niger, within the framework of brotherliness, cooperation and solidarity between our two countries and among ECOWAS members. In his acceptance speech, the President of the Niger Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), Mr Issaka Souna expressed profound gratitude to the President of Ghana, the Electoral Commission of Ghana and the people of Ghana for the prompt assistance to facilitate the second round of the Presidential elections. He explained that the request to Ghana for assistance was occasioned by the pressure of time due to the constitutional time limit for the organization of the second-round presidential elections, as well as delays in international trade and supply as a result of COVID-19 which made it impossible to receive replenishment in time for the elections. He thanked Ghana for the speed with which it responded to the request, as well as the spirit of generosity, fraternity, solidarity and cooperation that characterized the entire process of arranging and delivering the consignment to Niger. He noted that ECOWAS had put in place, a system for common management of electoral processes, mutual assistance and provision of goods and services by member states.
Recognising the donation from Ghana both as a national show of solidarity and support and also as a gesture within the ECOWAS framework, he expressed the hope that the ECOWAS framework of election mutual assistance would be strengthened and called on the authorities and institutions of other member states of ECOWAS to make necessary efforts to work together in the management of election materials. While emphasizing that the donation will assist CENI in organizing transparent elections, he assured that the people of Niger will exercise their sovereign franchise on 21st February in a manner characterised by transparency and freedom of choice. The CENI President extended his personal gratitude to Ambassador Magnusen for the personal interest that he took in facilitating the arrangement and delivery of the donation, and for the dynamism and effectiveness that he demonstrated in the process. He also acknowledged the invaluable support of His Excellency President Issoufou Mahamadou of Niger for facilitating the exercise by providing support, including an aircraft to freight the donation from Accra to Niamey. He took the opportunity to also acknowledge the support of other technical and financial partners for the provision of funds and technical material towards the organisation of the elections and ended by once again thanking Ghana for the donation in the spirit of the solidarity and historical relations that exist between the two countries