The government of the United States of America has lauded Nigeria’s 2022 Electoral Act which strengthens the nation’s electoral system and cemented its status as a democratic leader in a region that has been experiencing various administrative setbacks.
Speaking, the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, said her country’s government applauds the Act which formally granted INEC the ability to use the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) to accredit voters and transmit election results electronically. This type of system is a proven method to significantly reduce the potential for electoral fraud.
“We also welcomed the law’s provisions that facilitate voting by persons with disabilities, which is an important step towards ensuring accessibility for all voters. These developments are just some of the reasons the United States has confidence in Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)’s ability to organise and conduct credible and transparent elections,” she said.
According to her, the US also welcomes the work of the National Peace Committee, a vital player in helping to ensure that the electoral process is carried out in an environment of calm and respect for the rights of others. “I was among the many observers at the late September signing of the first of the NPC’s two peace accords and was reassured by the pledge of all 18 political parties and presidential tickets to run campaigns free of violence and inflammatory rhetoric.”
The envoy urged political parties and candidates to live up to their pledge as election day nears.
“There will soon be another opportunity to reaffirm their commitment to the democratic process by signing the second peace accord, in which they pledge to accept the results of the elections as announced by INEC.
“As part of the US’ commitment to robust and transparent elections, I want to reiterate that we have taken steps to impose visa restrictions against those responsible or complicit in undermining the democratic process in the past, and remain willing to do so again going forward.
“The commitment to peaceful, credible elections does not rest solely with politicians and nongovernmental organisations. The Nigerian public must remember that with the power to elect leaders also comes the responsibility to do so peacefully at the ballot box.
“How can voters do their part to ensure successful elections? There are several steps: Remember to bring your valid PVC to vote on election day.
“Know your polling unit ahead of election day. For more information regarding your polling unit, visit INEC’s website.
“Be informed. Find out where the candidates stand on issues that matter to you.
“On election day, VOTE YOUR CONSCIENCE.
“Remember, the only election poll results that matter are the ones that INEC will announce after the voting is finished. Election days often bring surprises and no outcome is pre-ordained by pre-election predictions.
“I would like to conclude by emphasising that the United States does not support any single candidate. Our only interest is in a fair democratic process that reflects the will of the Nigerian people. Participating in elections is a key freedom that many people in countries around the world do not have. No matter which political party you support, your vote matters.
“Go vote in February and March 2023. In doing so, you will make Nigeria proud as a leader and beacon for democracy,” she counselled.