The United States of America has reiterated its call on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to address promptly the challenges that can be resolved ahead of the March 11 gubernatorial elections, and undertake a broader review of the problems that transpired during the last elections and see what can be done to fix them.
The U.S in a statement by its Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, noted Nigerians demonstrated their dedication to democracy on February 25, but there are many angry and frustrated Nigerians as well as many who are celebrating victories they believe were hard-fought and well-earned.
She stated that in the coming days, it will be important for the future of the country that Nigerians not let their differences divide them, and that the legally established process for resolving challenges to the election be allowed to take its course.
Leonard, commended Mr. Peter Obi of the Labour Party and Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party for their recent statements committing to take the path of due process, and Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who INEC declared the president-elect under Nigeria’s electoral framework, for acknowledging their right to do so.
According to the U.S Ambassador to Nigeria, the United States is no stranger to election-related controversy and conflict adding that as much as it can be unsatisfying to end an electoral process in a courtroom, in a constitutional democracy bound by the rule of law, that is where electoral conflicts may appropriately conclude.
SHE SAID IT IS CLEAR THAT THE ELECTORAL PROCESS AS A WHOLE ON FEBRUARY 25 FAILED TO MEET NIGERIANS’ EXPECTATIONS BUT ACKNOWLEDGED THAT NIGERIA HAS ACCOMPLISHED MUCH IN JUST THE TWO-PLUS DECADES SINCE THE RETURN TO DEMOCRACY, AND A GRADUAL IMPROVEMENT IN THE QUALITY OF ITS ELECTIONS IN THAT TIME CONSTITUTES ONE OF THOSE ACCOMPLISHMENTS.
The U.S ambassador recognized that Nigerians want positive trends to continue, including through the use of new technology intended to make the process of reporting results more transparent she therefore, encouraged INEC to share with the Nigerian public information about the actions it is taking.
She highlighted some remarkable results from the past election which according to her, show how Nigeria’s political landscape is indisputably changing to include that in more than 20 states the winning candidate represented a different party than that of the incumbent governor.
According to her, twelve of the states are led by APC governors and for the first time, four presidential candidates won at least one state, and the top three each won 12 states based on the initial results.
She said even though results are still incomplete in the National Assembly elections, it is already known that changes are afoot as seven sitting governors lost in their attempts to win election to the Assembly with the Labor Party winning at least seven seats in the Senate and the NNPP has won at least 11 seats in the House of Representatives.
Leonard said Nigerians made clear their desire for responsive and inclusive governance, and the United States strongly support their ability to express that desire.
She pledged support as Nigeria goes through the next weeks and months, saying the United States and Nigeria are the two largest presidential democracies in the world, and longtime partners