The United States, US, Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Stuart Symington, has stated that America has a candidate in every election in Nigeria and rest of the world.
While speaking on Washington’s involvement in the Nigeria’s elections, Symington, at a dinner with the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, at the US Ambassador’s residence, said, “the transparent process is our candidate.
“What happens to Nigeria is significant to Africa and the world. That is why we have been organising meetings with the Nigerian officials,” he said.
The envoy observed that Nigeria is coming up democratically, stressing that this explains why the US cares so much about the country.
“We care so much about Nigeria,” he said, adding that during a visit to one of the states in Nigeria, he was impressed that the voter register was displayed for all Nigerians to see.
The dinner was also attended by the US assistant secretary of state for African Affairs, Ambassador Tibor P. Nagy Jr, who stressed that Nigeria must serve as an example to the African continent.
He warned that if the country fails to conduct credible polls, the democratic process in Africa might fail.
Nagy also stated that the American government was interested in the democratic process in Nigeria because of the country’s strategic nature of being the largest population and economy in Africa.
“The state (the Nigerian government) should be neutral,” he said, adding that “US views the election as very important” as “Nigeria has the largest population and economy. They should be an example of how elections should be conducted.”
Noting that the US government knows the difficulties the electoral umpire might be facing, Nagy however stated that America also knows that INEC is up to the task.
“We heard him,” he said, referring to the discussion they had with INEC chairman during the dinner.
While calling political parties to conduct themselves in a peaceful manner before, during and after the elections, Nagy said all political parties and candidates must advise their followers to be non-violent.
“We thank you for the difficult work you are doing,” the assistant secretary of state told the INEC boss, just as he observed that each election had its own criteria for assessments.
He explained that the frequent statements issued by the US government about Nigeria’s 2019 general election only seek a transparent process.
“Election is not about the election day. It’s like preparing for a feast”, he said, adding that critical elements must be addressed to get a credible election.
He further said the US government had been involved in the electoral process in Nigeria, with particular interest in the transparency.
In his response, the INEC chairman, Yakubu assured the US envoy that the commission would improve on the conduct of the 2015 general election.
“INEC is pleased with what the US is doing because they are the first, while Nigeria is second largest in democracy. This (2019 polls) will be an affirmation. We have 99 days to the general election. The election will be fair and credible,” he said, adding that the commission would follow all the processes.
On what the commission had put in place to ensure credible elections, the INEC chairman stated that since his appointment, he had conducted over 190 elections.
He pointed out that the electoral process had improved both in transparency, planning and logistics, adding that INEC was committed to protecting the integrity of the election process.