US tasks Inec to ensure that it resists pressure and intimidation as elections loom

WASHINGTON has asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec) to resist external pressure and intimidation during the forthcoming general elections scheduled for February 16 and March 2.


Over the coming month, Nigeria goes to the polls amid fears that the elections could be violent, particularly at the race is very close. International election observers have been urging the two leading contenders the ruling All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party to ensure that the polls are free and fair.


Earlier this week, the Kaduna State governor Nasir El-Rufai raised the political temperature further by stating that if anyone interferes in the election, they will leave Nigeria in body bags. His views have attracted widespread condemnation with the European Union, the UK and the US all saying that they will monitor the polls.


US secretary of state Michael Pompeo said that the upcoming elections in Nigeria would be an opportunity for the country to solidify its democratic leadership in Africa. Over the last week, the US has also warned against violence saying it will remain intensely focused on the elections.


Mr Pompeo said: “The United States government supports a free, fair, transparent, and peaceful election that reflects the will of the Nigerian people. It is critical that the Independent National Electoral Commission operates free from outside pressure and intimidation and in a totally objective manner.


“Nigerian security services must provide a safe and secure environment for the Nigerian people to exercise their rights. Those who interfere in the electoral process or incite violence must be held to account as the upcoming elections are an opportunity for Nigeria to solidify its place as a democratic leader in Africa.”


He stressed that the US and the international community have continued to call for credible and peaceful general elections in the country. America has described Nigeria’s 2019 general elections as a critical test for the country, the West African sub-region and the entire continent.