By Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari and former President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday congratulated the president-elect of Liberia, George Weah.
President Buhari described Weah’s final victory at the December 26 presidential run-off as a reflection of the will of Liberian people.
Former President Jonathan congratulated Weah and advised him to maintain his policy of open-mindedness in his new position.
Jonathan, who has just returned from Monrovia after leading the National Democratic Institute (NDI) International Elections Observation Mission to Liberia, posted the goodwill message to Weah on his Facebook page, saying: “I congratulate the declared winner, Mr. George Weah. I urge him to continue as he has started, with open arms policy. Everybody is a winner when democracy wins. And democracy has won today.” In the message the former President also commended Liberians for demonstrating the willingness to give democracy a chance.
It said further: “Throughout my political life, I have lived by the creed that nobody’s political ambition is worth the blood of their citizens. I am most grateful to the nation of Liberia and especially the candidates, Mr. George Weah and Mr. Joseph Boakai, for living up to this creed. As co-leader of the National Democratic Institute (NDI) International Elections Observation Mission to Liberia for these elections, I salute the zest for democracy of the Liberian people.”
Jonathan and other leaders of the NDI delegation had in a preliminary statement issued in Monrovia on Thursday acclaimed the Boxing Day polls as peaceful, orderly and well-organised.
President Buhari, according to a statement by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, congratulated the former world footballer on behalf of Nigeria and also commended the people of Liberia on the peaceful conduct of the polls.
Buhari, who described the peaceful conduct of the polls as “another plus on Africa’s democratic scoreboard,” praised the country’s electoral body and observers who contributed to the success of the polls.
Pledging Nigeria’s commitment to work with Liberia, Buhari showered encomiums on the outgoing president of the country, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, whose 12-year reign, he said, had transformed the country from its hitherto pariah state.
“On behalf of the Government and people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari warmly congratulates Mr George Weah on his election as the next President of the Republic of Liberia.
“President Buhari also commends the Liberian people on the peaceful conduct of the historic presidential run-off election, stressing that ‘this is another plus on Africa’s democratic scoreboard.’
‘The President equally applauds the efforts of the National Election Commission of Liberia, as well as regional and international observers who have contributed immensely to the electoral process and the strengthening of post-conflict democracy in the West African country.
“Describing Weah’s victory as an affirmation of the will of the Liberian people to remain united, peaceful and prosperous, President Buhari pledged Nigeria’s readiness to work with Liberia on issues of mutual interest at bilateral, regional and global levels for the benefit of citizens of both countries.
“The Nigerian leader also commends outgoing President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, under whose 12-year watch Liberia had transformed from being a pariah state to a country doing remarkably well on many fronts such as, women and civil rights issue, peace building and consolidation, ECOWAS and the Mano River Union.
“President Buhari also notes that President Sirleaf deserves special commendation for the statesmanship she has shown in ensuring free and fair elections that will pave the way for a peaceful transfer of political power from one democratically elected leader to another for the first time in 73 years.
“Wishing President-elect Weah and Liberians a peaceful transition, he reassures them of Nigeria’s determination to sustain the current cordial relationship with Liberia,” the statement read.
Speaking of his experience on the field on voting day, former
President Jonathan said: “I am proud of Liberians, who have come from crisis to democracy and have shown themselves to be a model of peace and stability in the region. Democracy goes beyond election day, and if Liberia succeeds, West Africa succeeds, Africa succeeds, and the world succeeds.”
In the same vein, Kosovo’s former President Atifete Jahjaga, said: “The NDI delegation would like to congratulate the people of Liberia for exercising their right to vote and for making a historic step towards the consolidation of democracy in their country. It is my hope that the positive trends that we have observed during this election will be sustained and further improved during future elections.”
In noting that voting was peaceful, orderly and well-organised as executed by trained polling officials, the preliminary statement also highlighted “aspects of voter participation, election administration, women and youth participation and security.”