Abuja-The U.S. and the UK said on Sunday that the “global spotlight is firmly fixed” on Nigeria’s March 28 Presidential and National Assembly Elections.
This is contained in a joint statement by U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry and UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, issued in Abuja by Sean McIntosh, Spokesman, U.S. Embassy.
Kerry and Hammond, in an op-ed titled: “Global Spotlight is Firmly Fixed on Nigerian Elections” said there were good reasons why the international spotlight was firmly fixed on Nigeria.
The duo noted that about 70 million Nigerian voters would be going to the polls to choose their leaders for the next four years.
“Whether the victor is incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan or opposition challenger Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) is entirely for Nigerians to decide.
“Around the globe, Nigeria’s friends will be united in hoping that the vote will be peaceful, transparent, and fair and that—win or lose—all sides will respect the outcome.
“There are good reasons why the international spotlight is firmly fixed on Nigeria during this critical period and why we have come together to support an open and credible electoral process.
“Nigeria is Africa’s largest democracy and what happens there will have an impact well beyond its borders.
“A successful election, free from violence and with wide participation, accurate vote counting, and responsible leadership from the candidates would inspire the region and spur future progress and prosperity.”
The duo said the elections “would also be a historic show of support by Nigerians for democratic values”.
They added that the polls would be “an equally firm rejection of the brutal terrorist group, Boko Haram, and others who advocate or perpetrate violence”.
The envoys regretted that in 2011, more than 800 people died in post-election clashes, adding that a recent survey shows that half of Nigerians are concerned about political intimidation this time around.
“The good news is that President Jonathan and General Buhari have repeatedly and publicly stressed their commitment to non-violence before, during, and after Election Day.
“Both candidates have affirmed their intent to act solely through legal channels in pursuing any concerns that might arise regarding the fairness of the vote.
“It is imperative that they, and their backers, live up to this pledge. Elections should be decided at the ballot box and, if necessary, in the courts; not through efforts to coerce others.”
They stressed the need for respect for the constitutional process and the independence of Nigeria’s Independent National Election Commission (INEC).
According to them, respect for the constitutional process is the only way that offers a sustainable way to address Nigeria’s many challenges.
“The countries we represent, the United States and the United Kingdom, strongly support the pledges articulated by the Nigerian candidates.
“The elections must be decided in accordance with the rule of law.’’ (NAN)