UN, US differ over Nigeria’s general elections postponement

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The United Nations and the United States Government, yesterday, differed over postponement of the earlier scheduled February 14 general elections in Nigeria. The UN commended Nigerians over acceptance in good faith the postponement of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

United Nation
United Nation

The UN also pledged to support Nigeria and the Multinational Joint Task Force to have a strong backing to fight Boko Haram.

But the United States criticised Nigeria over the postponement of the elections, saying that it was disappointed by the decision. But the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, yesterday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, commended Nigeria for postponement of the elections to enable it address some of the reasons given for the postponement.

Ban Ki-Moon cited the distribution of the Permanent Voter Cards and the need to address the security situation in the north-eastern part of the country as critical to credible election in Nigeria. The UN scribe, who was represented by the former President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Muhammed Ibn Chambas, a special representative of UNSG for Nigeria and West Africa, noted that before the postponement of the election, it was clear that few people were able to obtain their PVCs.

According to Chambas, while speaking to journalists shortly after a meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan, “On Friday, the Secretary General had a telephone conversation with Mr. President. In fact, a day before, he had spoken to Mr. Buhari; of course, it was about that time it was sensed about the possible postponement of the elections in this country.

“We have seen that the postponement has been accepted by all the political parties and stakeholders. The reasons adduced are known now. “Of course, in some states, it’s clear that very few people relatively have been able to collect their PVCs. The extension provides an opportunity for many more Nigerians to collect these cards and be able to exercise franchise.

“But above all, the Secretary General told me to commend Mr. President and other leaders of the political parties and Nigerians as a whole for the maturity that has been demonstrated so far in this whole preparation towards the general elections that are now scheduled later in March.

“We saw first of all the primaries, there were a lot of speculations about how they will go, but it transpired in a very calm and peaceful manner. The campaigns started and again, Nigerians have demonstrated a lot of maturity in the general manner in which the campaigns have taken place. “Naturally in periods such as this, there will be heightened tension, heightened rhetoric but on the whole, we have very little violence associated with this process.

“And this is the same also with the postponement, where there were a lot of speculations about what will happen. But so far this process has been proceeding in a calm, peaceful and credible manner.

“This is the wish certainly of the UN but also of many friends of Nigeria. It is our expectations that all will continue to exercise restraints and keep this process clean. And that at the end of the day, Nigerians will all accept the outcome of the vote of the people.” Chambas assured Nigeria of the UN’s support to fight Boko Haram, noting that the activities of the terrorist organisation have assumed international dimension.

“The other issue that remains a source of concern is the activities of Boko Haram terrorists in north-east of Nigeria and also in neighbouring countries. The UN stands firmly behind Nigeria in its legitimate fight against Boko Haram terrorists. “Mr. President has the assurance of the Secretary General for the recent initiative, whereby the Lake Chad Basin Commission will be the platform to anchor the multinational task force which is being put in place.

“There will be support of the United Nation through the Department of Peacekeeping to ensure that the concept of operations and planning and other activities to ensure a truly joint operational force with a clear commanding control and unity of purpose among the different countries contributing troops, that they all work as one and get their efforts towards degrading and eliminating Boko Haram.

“And in this, you can count on the strong support of the United Nations. Finally, the Secretary General wishes to assure that in the area of humanitarian support with the displaced persons in Nigeria, we will continue to work with Nigerian authorities.

“The president has assured that full material and logistical support would be provided to NEMA, the UN systems and other partners would work with NEMA and we hope that through our joint efforts, we will be able to bring some amelioration to the lives of the people who have been internally displaced as a result of the barbaric and cruel action of Boko Haram. “In short, the message is that we appreciate the pure manner in which the electoral process is proceeding; the Secretary General commended the president and other political leaders to continue on that path.

“The Secretary General expresses strong support in the fight against Boko Haram. Boko Haram is not a threat only to Nigeria or the region, but indeed is an international issue and requires full international support in Nigeria’s fight against Boko Haram the same way the fight is taken against Al-Shabab, ISIS and terrorists in northern Mali, the same effort is required in the fight against Boko Haram.”

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