The United States government, through its Secretary of State for the Bureau of African Affairs, Molly Phee, and its Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, restated its position ahead of the February 25 and March 11 general elections.
Her position was presented when both U.S. government officials paid a courtesy visit to Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), at the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja on Monday.
Phee said, “I do want to make it clear that the U.S. government does not back any candidate or party. We back the process; we back democracy.”
During the early stages of her presentation, she heaped praise on the electoral body and called for all stakeholders to make the transition process from the current administration to another work.
“Under the leadership of the chairman and the support of his team, all Nigerians can have confidence in the integrity of the upcoming election.”
“Democracies are an exciting experiment in human governance,” Phee said. “It doesn’t matter whether you are rich or poor, whether you live in the city or the countryside, what your religion is, or what your nationality is, every single vote counts, and Nigerians should have confidence in the electoral process thanks to the excellent work of INEC.”
She expressed confidence that, with the technical support the U.S. government and other foreign partners have given INEC, the commission should be able to conduct a credible election.
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“So we are honoured to be here to see you today. We are proud of our contributions in technical assistance to help you meet the challenges of conducting such a large election in a diverse country. And we, like your other international partners, are confident that you will succeed. I do want to emphasize the importance of conducting a peaceful election; and I do want to emphasize that every citizen, every stakeholder, and every party involved in this election has a responsibility for the election, for the campaign period, during and after the election, to be peaceful.
“So it is very important; it is a challenge we faced in my country, and I encourage you to look at the 230 years of American history where we peacefully transfer power every four years. A distinct human achievement, and I’m confident Nigeria will fare well,” she emphasized.
Reacting to the goodwill message from the U.S. delegates, INEC chairman appreciated the U.S. government for their show of confidence in his administration’s ability to conduct the upcoming general election. He also appreciated them for providing the needed support to help the electoral body increase its preparedness to conduct the upcoming elections, promising to uphold the integrity and sanctity of the electoral process.
“We are interested in consolidating our democracy,” he stated.
“We released a timetable and schedule of activities for this election last year in February 2022,” he added, explaining how much energy and resources the agency has put in to ensure a credible 2023 election. “At that time, we identified 14 activities based on the provisions of the law that we must have implemented leading up to the election, and I am happy to say that out of the 14 activities, 12 have been implemented and two are pending.”
“The last day for political party campaigns would also be the 23rd of February 2023, and the election day proper, which is for the national assembly and presidential election, will hold on the 25th of February, and the state elections will hold on the 11th of March,” Yakubu said. “I want to assure you that we are on the same page, and we assure Nigerians that we will uphold only that which transpires at the polling units, and that is the will of the Nigerian people.”