The US has described Nigeria’s 2019 elections as “a critical test” for the country and the entire continent.
Tibor Nagy Jr., US assistant secretary, Bureau of African Affairs, said this in his testimony to the US house of representatives sub-committee on Africa, global health, global human rights, and international organisations.
The hearing was titled: ‘Nigeria at a Crossroad: The Upcoming Elections’, according to the transcript obtained by NAN on Friday.
“The Department of State agrees with the view that Nigeria’s February 2019 national elections are a critical test,” Nagy said.
“The conduct of the elections could have significant consequences for the democratic trajectory of Nigeria, West Africa, and the entire continent.”
The US envoy said the conduct of the 2015 elections, although “by no means perfect”, was a step forward for Nigeria’s democracy.
He added that the election resulted in Nigeria’s first-ever democratic transfer of power to a non-incumbent party, “thereby increasing capacity and improving conduct of Nigerian democratic institutions and election bodies.”
“In advance of the 2019 elections, the US government continues to support the Nigerian goal of free, fair, transparent, and peaceful elections that reflect the will of the Nigerian people,” he said.
“Through diplomacy, robust public engagement including with Nigeria’s youth and civil society, and democracy and governance programmes, we are helping the country to strengthen its democratic institutions and processes.
“The U.S. does not support any single candidate. We support a democratic process that is free, fair, transparent, peaceful, and reflects the will of the Nigerian people.”
He said the US government has developed a comprehensive election strategy to plan and coordinate its efforts, anchored on three main objectives.
These, he said, include supporting a free and fair electoral process, including technical assistance to Nigeria’s election institutions, civil society, and political parties as well as monitoring of the election around the country.
He said the third is “to prevent and mitigate electoral violence, including conflict monitoring, peace building programs, and peace messaging.”