The United States yesterday shed light on why Nigeria must get it right in the 2019 general election, stating categorically that if the country fails to conduct credible polls, the democratic process in Africa might fail.
Specifically, the US government said it was interested in the democratic process in Nigeria because of the country’s strategic nature of being the largest population and economy in Africa.
Speaking after a dinner with the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Mahmud Yakubu, at the US Ambassador’s residence, the US assistant secretary of state for African Affairs, Ambassador Tibor P. Nagy (Jr), said Nigeria must serve as an example to the African continent.
“The state should be neutral,” Tibor said, referring to the Nigerian government, even as he added that “US views the election as very important”.
“Nigeria has the largest population and economy. They should be an example of how elections should be conducted,” he said.
Noting that the US government knows the difficulties the electoral umpire might be facing, Tibor stated, however, that America also knows that INEC is up to the task.
“We heard him,” Tibor 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, Tibor 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”, Tibor 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.
On his part, the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington, said America had a candidate in every election in the world.
“The transparent process is our candidate,” Stuart said, referring to that country’s involvement in the Nigeria’s elections, which he described as critical and important.
“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.
According to Stuart, Nigeria is coming up democratically, which is why US cares so much about the country.
“We care so much about Nigeria,” the ambassador 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.
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,” Yakubu said, adding that the commission would follow all the processes.
On what the commission had put in place to ensure credible elections, Yakubu said since his appointment as INEC chairman, he had conducted over 190 elections.
According to him, the electoral process had improved both in transparency, planning and logistics, adding that INEC was committed to protecting the integrity of the election process.
We’ll Witness Great Rebirth After Elections – PMB
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari said yesterday that Nigeria will come out of the 2019 general election stronger.
According to the president, the nation had been able to weather the storm over the years only because of God’s intervention.
Buhari, who spoke at the annual breakfast prayer session organised by the National Assembly Christian legislators’ prayer breakfast fellowship, said in spite of doomsday prophesies, the country is tackling its problems and becoming more prosperous.
He pointed out that while doomsday prophets had prophesied that the country would plunge into crisis, the Nigeria would witness a great rebirth in 2019, especially after the polls, which many unpatriotic critics had predicted would be crisis-ridden.
The president who was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, noted that God was with Nigeria, which is why the country is pushing ahead despite her several problems.
“God is with Nigeria. 2019 shall bring in a new Nigeria. God will answer our prayers as we look unto him”, the president prayed.
He assured that his administration will continue to promote peace and ensure good governance, adding that with God’s continued blessing upon the country, Nigeria shall witness better days in her political and economic life.
According to him, the hope for the rebirth of a new nation in Nigeria can only be realised when people in highly placed positions eschew divisive tendencies for overall national interest.
He said as leader of the nation, he always seeks the intervention of God Almighty for Nigeria in all spheres of her national life.
President Buhari also called on Christian lawmakers and other leaders to always embrace unity in all ramifications, noting that it would give birth to a new Nigerian nation.
In his goodwill message at the occasion, Speaker of House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, said that Nigeria can overcome her numerous challenges through constant prayers.
Dogara stated that through collective prayers, Nigerians can change the narrative and the destiny of the country.
In his sermon, the guest speaker, Apostle Emmanuel Nuhu Kure, said that God is at the verge of raising godly leaders for the country.
Drawing inspiration and reference from biblical quotations, particularly Isaiah 40:46, Jeremiah 33:25, 2nd Chronicles 20:35-37 and Joshua 10:1-9, he said political leaders must desist from making uncomplimentary statements about the polity.
The cleric noted that the 2019 general election would spring surprises for the nation, as God is going to use his divine mantle to select good and godly leaders for the nation.