With 23 days to the presidential election in Nigeria, the United States government has announced that it does not support any candidate particular candidate.
There have been recent attempts to rope the US government into the credibility of Atiku Abubakar, candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), whom the ruling All Progressives Congres (APC) consistently said could not enter the US for fear of being arrested for alleged corruption. However, when it became clear Atiku was on the verge of receiving US visa, Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information, urged the US not to grant it, saying such move could be misinterpreted as support for the PDP candidate.
Atiku has now travelled to the US and returned to Nigeria, with his supporters turning the trip to an image-burnishing campaign issue. But the US government, though not mentioning any name, insists it has no favourites ahead of the February 16 presidential election.
A statement by the US government on the forthcoming elections read: “The United States government does not support any specific candidate or party in Nigeria’s upcoming elections. The United States supports the Nigerian democratic process itself. We support a genuinely free, fair, transparent, and peaceful electoral process.
“We will not hesitate to consider consequences — including visa restrictions — for those found to be responsible for election-related violence or undermining the democratic process. Under U.S. immigration law, certain violations may also lead to restrictions on family members.”
The US government urged all candidates to sign the peace pledge and ensure they play their part in ensuring a peaceful election.
Similarly, the United Kingdom affirmed its commitment to credible and peaceful elections in Nigeria, adding that it would not endorse any candidate in the coming election.
“We and our international partners remain committed supporters of Nigeria’s democracy. We do not support any party or individual and believe that the Nigerian people should be able to choose their leaders in an environment free from hate speech and insecurity,” a statement by the UK read.
The UK, however, said it would be backing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and key stakeholders to help deliver credible elections and peaceful electoral process.
It also spoke against electoral violence while stating that perpetrators of violence would face legal consequences.
“Our monitors will, in particular, be looking out for any attempts to encourage or use violence to influence the elections, including on social media. We would like to remind all Nigerians that where the UK is aware of such attempts, these may have consequences for individuals. These could include their eligibility to travel to the UK, their ability to access UK based funds or lead to prosecution under international law.”