The United States government has expressed ‘deep’ disappointment by the decision to postpone Nigeria’s presidential election, which had been scheduled for February 14.
A statement by U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, shortly after the announcement of the poll shift by the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Attahiru Jega, on Saturday, said political interference with INEC is unacceptable.
Mr. Jega, while announcing the shift, said INEC’s decision follows a letter from security agencies informing the commission that security cannot be guaranteed if the elections go ahead as scheduled.
He said the Nigerian military is currently engaged in operations against Boko Haram insurgents in the north-eastern part of the country.
“Last Wednesday…the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) wrote a letter to the Commission, drawing attention to recent developments in four Northeast states of Borno, Yobe, Adamawa and Gombe currently experiencing the challenge of insurgency.
“The letter stated that security could not be guaranteed during the proposed period in February for the general elections,” Mr. Jega said.
But the U.S. government in its reaction said “it is critical that the government not use security concerns as a pretext for impeding the democratic process”.
Mr. Jega had also on Saturday announced new dates of March 28 and April 11 for national and state elections.
The US said the international community would be watching closely as the Nigerian government prepares for elections on the newly scheduled dates.
“The United States underscores the importance of ensuring that there are no further delays.
“As I reaffirmed when I visited Lagos last month, we support a free, transparent, and credible electoral process in Nigeria and renew our calls on all candidates, their supporters, and Nigerian citizens to maintain calm and reject election-related violence,” Mr. Kerry said.