United States Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Molly Phee, says her country has no preferred candidate in Nigeria’s general election.
Ms Phee stated this when she visited the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu in his office on Monday in Abuja.
She expressed confidence that the general election would be hitch-free and successful.
“Democracies are exciting experiments in human governance. It doesn’t matter whether you’re rich or poor, whether you live in a city or the countryside, what your religion is, what your nationality is.
“Every single vote counts and Nigerians should have confidence in their electoral process. Thanks to the excellent work of INEC.
“We are honoured to be here to see you today. We are proud of our contribution to technical assistance to help you meet the challenges of conducting such a large election. It is such a large and diverse country.
“We, like your other international partners, are confident that you will succeed,” she said.
Ms Phee said although the US had no preferred candidate in the election, it would back the processes toward a credible poll.
She said the US highly valued its partnership with Nigeria.
“We are both a diverse democracy and we want to encourage a successful election that is free and fair and peaceful, and I’m happy to say that I have great confidence that you will have a successful election.
“Since 1999, Nigeria has been moving up in solidifying and consolidating its democratic trajectory.
“And now, with INEC under the leadership of the chairman, and the support of his superb team, all Nigerians can have confidence in the integrity of the upcoming election,” she said.
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Ms Phee advised Nigerians to ensure that there was peace in the country before, during and after the election.
“I do want to emphasise the importance of conducting a peaceful election.
“I do want to emphasize that every citizen, every stakeholder, every party involved in the election has a responsibility before the election, during the campaign period, during the election and after the election, to be peaceful,’’ she said.
In his remarks, Mr Yakubu re-stated INEC’s commitment to free, fair and credible elections that would uphold the will of the people as expressed in the poll.
“Like the United States, INEC is only interested in the process. The commission is not a political party. We have no candidates in the election.
“We only focus on the process, the choice ultimately belongs to the people of Nigeria. The commission will uphold the choice made by Nigerians.
“We are committed to free, fair, credible, and inclusive and I must also add verifiable elections in 2023,” he said.
Mr Yakubu said INEC looked forward to consolidating its partnership with the U.S.
“If the United States is the largest presidential democracy in the world, which country is the second largest presidential democracy in the world? It is actually Nigeria.
“Yes, you may have other countries like India, Indonesia, other democracies, but they are a parliamentary democracy, not presidential democracy.
“Based on the projection of Nigeria’s population in the next two years, who knows we may also utterly overtake the United States as the largest presidential democracy in the world.
“So we’re interested in ensuring that we consolidate our democracy. There is no system of government better than a democratic system where the will of the people will continue to prevail,” he said.
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