THE United States government, has warned that it would refuse visas for anyone found culpable in encouraging electoral violence or undermining the 2023 process, insisting that it neither had a preferred candidate nor a political party for the 2023 general elections in Nigeria.
US Consular General (Nigeria), Mr. Will Stevens stated this in Asaba, Delta State, in a first in a series of OpenGov Town Hall meeting in the Niger Delta region organised by the auspices of the Niger-Delta Open Observatory, NOGO, cluster supported by the USAID Strengthening Civic Advocacy and Local Engagement (SCALE) project implemented by Palladium.
Stevens said the American government was only interested in free, fair and credible polls that represents the people and expressed delight at the Electoral Act which he said, has good measures to strengthen voting security.
He said: “The US do not have a preferred candidate, full stop! We are not interested in a particular party or candidate. What we are interested in is free, fair, and credible election that represents the people.
“These elections are important.
Nigeria is the fifth largest democracy in the world so when the people of Nigeria come to vote, you are showing the strength of democracy to the rest of the world.”
He said the US had been working with the Nigeria government as partners to support the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC and civil society organizations to enable them hold candidates accountable.
Stevens also disclosed that the US has provided nearly 50 million dollars in technical assistance to the electoral umpire to strengthen the mechanisms that will allow Nigerians feel comfortable that their votes will count .
“We in the United States will discourage any politicians, citizens ,other parties who are encouraging electoral violence or seeking to undermine the electoral process.
“One thing we have done in the past and continue to do is that those who seek to undermine the democratic process can and will be found ineligible for visa to the US,” he said.
Stevens said his mission to Delta state and the South-East was for pre election monitoring with a view to looking and seeing how things are developing. He added that the consulate is doing all within its powers to understand what is happening and articulate such to US citizens.
Highpoint of the event was the signing of a commitment by some gubernatorial candidates in the Delta governorship race to a social contract with Deltans.
Gubernatorial candidate of the PDP candididate, Rt Hon Sheriff Oborevwori, represented by Director General, Delta PDP Campaign Council, Mr. Funkekeme Solomon, gubernatorial candidate of the APC, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, represented by Dr Austin Izagbo, and Mr Sunny Ofehe of Young People’s Party, YPP were among governorship candidates that signed the manifesto.
Others are Mr Kennedy Pela and Dr Goodnews Agbi, candidates of the Labour Party, LP and New Nigeria People’s Party, NNPP, respectively.
Credit to Vanguard