2019: US House of Reps call for credible elections

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The Unites States (U.S.) House of Representatives on Friday called on the government of Nigeria to ensure free, fair and credible elections in the coming 2019 general elections.

The call followed a resolution introduced by a top Democrat serving on the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa in the House, Rep. Karen Bass, who also called on Nigeria to ensure electoral accountability and transparency in the election.

The bill was co-sponsored by the chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Elliot L. Engel, who is the top Republican serving in the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa Congressman; Chris Smith, Nigeria Caucus Co-Chair; Representatives Steve Chabot, Shelia Jackson Lee and Representative Gregory Meeks.

Introducing the resolution Bass said, “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.

“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.”

In his contribution, the House Committee Chairman, Engel said, “I am proud to be an original cosponsor of this legislation, which reaffirms the United States’ longstanding commitment to strengthening democracy in Nigeria.”

Another lawmaker, Smith sais, “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.

“The upcoming elections in Nigeria, Africa’s largest democracy and economy, are critical to the future of the nation.”

Representative Chabot said in his speech, “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.

Representative Jackson-Lee 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.

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“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 per cent increase from the 2015 elections.

Another lawmaker, Representative Meek, also contributing said “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.

“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.”

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