Ahead of the forthcoming elections in Nigeria, the United States of America Congress, has warned President Muhammadu Buhari -led Federal Government against anti -democratic tendencies capable of undermining the polls.
The Congress, specifically, warned against the incessant clamp down on opposition leaders and government’s soft handling of “extremists” perpetrating violence on the people, especially in Middle Belt.
It was gathered that some ranking members of US Congress cutting across both Republican and Democrats , have introduced a resolution urging the Nigeria Government as well as political parties, to ensure “electoral accountability and transparency in the upcoming elections.”
Sponsors of the resolution include : Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), top Democrat serving on the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa; Elliot. L, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs ; and Engel (D-New York), Chairman, Elections figures and their Application.
Other co-sponsors include : top Republican serving the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Congressman Chris Smith (R-New Jersey); Nigeria Caucus Co-Chairs Representatives Steve Chabot (R-Ohio); Shelia Jackson Lee (D- Texas); and Representative Gregory Meeks (D-New York) .
In his contribution during a debate on the resolution, Smith said : “The upcoming elections in Nigeria, Africa’s largest democracy and economy, are critical to the future of the nation.”
He expressed concern over reports of Buhari’s anti-democratic tendencies, warning that the US will not fold hands and watch any person or group embark on acts capable of distablising the largest country in Africa.
His words : “Reports of President Muhamadu Buhari’s apparent crackdown on non-violent protests and harassment of opposition leaders are extremely concerning, as well as the ongoing violence that has been perpetrated by extremists, particularly in the Middle Belt region.
“The violence must be stopped, along with any subversion of the electoral process. The Nigerian government must see to free and fair elections, which this resolution calls for.”
Contributing, Rep Chabot said : “As Co-Chair of the Congressional Nigeria Caucus, I appreciate the importance of a strong bilateral relationship with Nigeria and applaud its citizens for their commitment to democracy.
“There is still work to be done, however, to ensure that Nigeria’s upcoming elections are transparent, peaceful, and credible.
“Our resolution lays out the necessary steps to achieve these goals, and urges Nigeria to conduct elections free of violence. Conducting high-quality elections will strengthen our bilateral relationship, help consolidate Nigerian democracy, and be an example to other countries.”
In his own contribution, Rep. Jackson Lee said :”As a founding Co-Chair of the Congressional Nigeria Caucus, I am excited that over 84 million Nigerians have registered to vote, a record breaking number and an 18% increase from the 2015 elections.
“Nigeria has one of the largest youth populations in the world and I encourage the Nigerian youth to #GetOuttheVote.
” I urge Nigerian political parties, civil society, and community leaders to address challenges such as voter fraud and the hardship that displaced persons encounter in order to cast their vote.
“It is up to Nigerians on the ground to ensure that elections are free, fair, and peaceful.”
Rep. Meeks said :”It is critical that Nigeria remain a role model in its region for democratic institutions and work to ensure free and fair elections.
“There can be no democracy without full confidence in the results of an election, and it is vital that there is full transparency so that February leaves no doubt as to the outcome.”
“It is in the best interest of the United States to maintain a strong bilateral relationship with a politically stable, democratic, and economically sound Nigeria that can play a leadership role in the region and the continent more broadly,” said Representative Bass.
“A credible, transparent and peaceful election this coming February would further consolidate democratic gains achieved over the last two decades.
Nigerians are deeply committed to democracy and ensuring transparency in electoral preparations, which would build public confidence in the electoral process.
“This resolution sends the message that the people of the United States will continue to stand with the people of Nigeria in support of peace and democracy.”
“I am proud to be an original cosponsor of this legislation, which reaffirms the United States’ long- standing commitment to strengthening democracy in Nigeria,” said Chairman Engel.
“In 2015, Nigeria became another democratic role model for countries on the continent, showing that a credible electoral process could result in the peaceful transition of power from an incumbent to the opposition.
” Regardless of the outcome, my hope for the upcoming presidential, gubernatorial, and National Assembly elections is that Nigerian politicians, citizens, and the electoral commission will build on the successes of 2015 to further consolidate democracy in Nigeria.”