By Lizzy Okoji
Abuja, Feb. 15, 2023
The United States Government has advised Nigerians to avoid inciting statements that could trigger violence, voter’s suppression or intimidation and thereby mar the electoral process.
Ms. Molly Phee, U.S. Assistant Secretary of States for African Affairs, gave the advice, on Wednesday, in Abuja, during a roundtable with some Nigerian journalists in Abuja.
Phee, whose advice is coming few days to the 2023 general elections in the country, noted that having credible polls was the responsibility of all citizens.
She urged Nigerians to trust in the electoral process and accept the choice of the people when winners are announced, while strongly admonishing citizens to refrain from post-election violence.
Pee also cautioned political parties and their candidates against voters’ suppression and intimidation.
The official further said that her interactions with officials of INEC showed that they were prepared to hold elections in the country in spite of the current challenges.
“We recognise that Nigeria is undergoing a challenging time with the security problems, which have expanded across the country in recent years and with the current economic challenges, which initially I think was amplified by COVID, and now the implementation on new naira policy.
“The assessment that has been relayed to me by the experts who are operating and managing your electoral process is that they are prepared and able to hold and host the elections across the country in spite of the many challenges.
“Again, this is where it is important for the candidates, the parties, the individuals, Nigerians to take responsibility for a successful election.
“So that in these intense few days before the elections there are no acts of voter’s intimidation through violence, or voters’ suppression through violence.
“And on the election day there is no violence as the winner is considered, the votes are tabulated, results are announced, that people respect and abide by the voice of the Nigerian people.
“I think you have a good process, you have a good history since 1999 where after each elections you get stronger and your system improves and I hear a desire and hunger for successful elections.
“And I am confident that you can meet that challenge,” Phee said.
The assistant secretary further said that the U.S government remains committed to supporting Nigeria’s democracy and a peaceful transition of power.
She reiterated that the U.S. government was not backing a single individual, candidate or party, but the democratic process, adding that part of her visit was to check the process and to encourage Nigerians on a successful election.
“Here in Nigeria, it is my impression that the fundamentals here are very strong and President Buhari has made it very clear that he would not seek a third term, and that he views an important legacy of his time and tenure as President to be a peaceful transition of power.
“In December, when the United States hosted the African Leaders Summit, President Biden invited a select number of Heads of State to the White House including President Buhari to discuss upcoming elections in 2023.
“In that meeting they discussed the importance and challenges of how to arrange a free and fair election that will result in a credible outcome, and how to ensure that the process is peaceful.
“Last year, your government enacted electoral reforms which are very positive and have contributed, I believe to a credible electoral process.
“As we have learnt in the United States, successful elections require everyone to contribute. That is why as I earlier said, it is important for all Nigerians to act responsibly, and vote their conscience.
“It is my understanding that Nigerians have confidence in this electoral system and they should vote with confidence that their votes will count,” Phee said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Phee during her visit will engage with Civil Society, Youth, the private sector, religious leaders, election officials, political party leaders, and government representatives.
Her visit underscores the U.S commitment to supporting free and fair elections in February and March that would be conducted peacefully.