The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is capable of conducting a free, fair and credible election in 2019, United States Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Ambassador Tibor Nagy has said.
Nagy, who is on a visit to the country, noted that the task before the commission was very difficult, but he was positive that the Prof. Mahmood Yakubu-led INEC would do a job in the 2019 general polls.
The visiting Assistant Secretary for African Affairs said: “Nigeria has been an example of a model of the kind of democratic processes, which would be wonderful to have throughout the African continent.
“Not only is Nigeria the largest African country and economy in Africa, but the last election in 2015 was an absolute positive example on how an election should be conducted and so much of the credit goes to the commission for their phenomenal positive and very objective work in managing those elections.
“So, we have every confidence that the commission would be up to the task, which we all know is a very difficult task, given the enormity of the process. So, we are very encouraged by what we heard today.”
Responding to questions from reporters regarding U.S. interest in the 2019 election, Nagy emphasised that the U.S. does not have any candidate in the 2019 election.
“We don’t care who wins but the process,” he said.
He said while Nigerians have absolute right to choose their leaders, the process through which such leaders emerged must be transparent, free and fair to all.
The envoy, therefore, urged politicians and security agencies to shun activities capable of discrediting the outcome of the 2019 election.
“Regarding the plans for the February elections, we will remain very interested and we were very honoured to be able to host the chairman in the U.S. recently to be able to observe the preparations for our own elections.
“We understand all of the complexities and we want to specially urge all the parties concerned to please urge all of their followers to be non-violent and also to urge all of the organs of state security, especially to remain neutral in this process because the neutrality of the state is absolutely essential,” he stated.
U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria Stuart Symington posited: “Election is not all about election day, but all the processes leading to the election.”
Symington, therefore, urged Nigerian voters to avail themselves the opportunity provided by the recent display of the voters’ register to screen the lists.
On his part, INEC Chairman assured that the commission would not disappoint the international community as it has put in place machinery to protect the integrity of the process.
Yakubu said: “We want to make 2019 a further affirmation of the maturity of the Nigerian democracy and we are committed to these processes.”
He pledged the resolve of his team to focus on the processes and not parties or actors.
He added: “We will do our best to ensure that we maintain the credibility of the process and I want to assure you that we will not let the international community down.”