Monday, May 31, 2010

United States Imperialists Seek to Dictate Electoral Rules in Nigeria

US warns against delay in release of timetable, voter register

By Agency reporter
Monday, 31 May 2010

The United States on Sunday expressed concern over delay by the Independent National Electoral Commission in releasing the timetable and an updated voter register for the 2011 poll.

It said that this situation would pose a major challenge to the smooth conduct of the elections.

Answering questions at the News Agency of Nigeria Forum in Abuja on Sunday, the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Ms. Robin Sanders, said, “The big challenge is that you do not know when the elections are going to be held yet, though the decision is in the hands of the National Assembly.”

INEC had on March 16, 2010 issued a two-option timetable for the elections. It said the final decision would be taken after the conclusion of the review of the 1999 constitution.

Sanders said Washington’s observation followed concerns expressed by Civil Society Organisations at the maiden meeting of the US—Nigeria Bi-National Commission, which ended on Thursday in Abuja.

She said, “Those are the things that we were briefed on your side and I hope resolutions will be made very quickly. Election date is one of the things to figure out first before everything else.

“I will tell you quite honestly that, the focus of the BNC’s first working group was on elections’ credibility. Transparent elections are kind of the order of the day now and the theme of the day.

“You certainly need an election date, a sooner rather than later kind of determination; you need a clear and transparent voter register.’’

Sanders added that for INEC to conduct a credible election, it must ensure a transparent voter registration.

The Ambassador said, “Certainly, internal political democracy is a big challenge and I think that really is not something that any outsider friend can do for Nigeria.

“That is going to come from political will; only Nigerian elements have the role there.”

On strategies to ensure the implementation of the outcomes of the BNC, Sanders said both sides had engaged senior officials to outline challenges and commitments.

“I think to have a senior member of the US government lead a delegation shows our seriousness and commitment, and I think Nigeria had an array of ministers during the BNC telling us some of the challenges, where the challenges are; telling us what their commitments are,” she said.

“I think that is one of the positive signals,‘‘ she added.

Sanders urged the Federal Government and Nigerians to challenge any act that would prevent the attainment of free and fair elections in 2011.

She said that Nigeria had “all it takes” to achieve free and fair elections.

According to her, there is the need for strong political will by the government, to ensure that the elections were conducted in the right way.

“The free, fair and transparent elections are going to be driven by political will and we need to make that happen at every level; whether it’s at your executive level, whether it’s at your political party level, whether it’s at your grass roots level,’’ Sanders said.

The envoy pledged that the US would offer Nigeria technical assistance so that it could have credible, transparent and fair elections.

She said, “We see election technical assistance as the support of what we hope the overall atmosphere of ensuring that there is a fair and transparent election.

“We alone can’t do that, but that has to be something that Nigerians want and we can’t want it more than Nigerians.

“No matter how much technical assistance is poured into it, if there is no political will in every stage of the election process chain, then you are going to have a challenge about the outcome.’’

She urged the electorate to partner the government to guarantee credible elections, noting that, “credible and transparent election is the order of the day now.’’

The ambassador said that Nigeria’s democracy was facing challenges, like any other growing democracy, adding that Nigerians had to work hard to overcome them.

The ambassador said she was happy that Nigeria had survived the “very fragile environment of insecurity,” which stretched from November 2009 until recently.

“It’s been a very fragile environment; there has been a lot of insecurity. I think since you found a way out of this tragic period, I think you can accommodate and talk about elections,” she said.

She noted that Nigeria had the resources, talent, creativity, innovativeness, intelligence, commitment and dedication to have free and fair elections.

The ambassador stressed that the US government was willing to work with Nigeria on the BNC’s strategic action deliverable.