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2023 polls: U.S supports Nigeria with over $25m

Abuja—The U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Marybeth Leonard, says the U.S. government has supported the Nigerian government with over 25 million dollars through different programmes toward achieving free, fair, and credible elections.

According to the Punch newspaper, Leonard made this known in a roundtable with some journalists in Abuja, on Thursday, noting that the U.S. government supported a credible electoral process but does not support a particular party or candidate.

She said the U.S. had been very present in Nigeria’s democratic journey since 1999, commending Nigeria for upholding a peaceful, and consistent democracy.

“So we have long been involved in democracy and governance through programmes in Nigeria,: and probably we are spending about 25 million dollars with particular reference to this election.

“We are doing many things. First of all, we are sponsoring an independent observation mission with some very high-powered delegation, U.S Veterans, they are independent of us but we have played a role in facilitating.

“We have worked with INEC itself, on some of the technical aspects, for example, we trained some 1,800 technical workers on how to trouble shoot the BVAS and those people in their turns have trained hundreds of thousands of other people.”

According to her,  so that come election day, if there is any trouble with the technology, people will be around to know how to fix it.

“We have done a lot of trying to facilitate diversity of participation in elections, to make it easier for a lot of people with disabilities. We are encouraging youth and women to vote.

“We have worked with journalists to train them on how to spot misinformation, how do journalists engage during electoral processes, we have worked with security agencies.

“I think we have had a well-rounded interaction regarding this election and again,  we are really looking forward to seeing the peaceful elections,” Leonard said.

Leonard urged the presidential candidates and political parties in the general elections to preserve the nation’s democracy by respecting the Peace Accord they committed to and encourage peaceful polls.

She said that just like the candidates and political parties, every Nigerian has the responsibility of ensuring a peaceful process, warning Nigerians against anyone who would try to incite violence.

“Everybody has an obligation to contributing to a peaceful execution of election, security agencies have a formal role, politicians have a role, campaigns have a role, individuals have a role.

“Some of the things you see on social media are disturbing  with inciting of violence, and I think all Nigerians have to think about that carefully, your vote is your voice.

“We urge the candidate and political parties to respect the outcomes of the elections and the National Peace Commission should be commended for their roles.

“I will hope that leaders take their commitments seriously,” Leonard said.

Leonard also urged Nigerians to trust in the electoral process, noting that Nigeria has recorded positive growth and consistency in its democratic journey since 1999.

The U.S ambassador said that Nigeria is conducting its elections under several advantages with the new electoral act and the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS).

“Nigerians should be very proud of their country as they go into elections. You think about the landscape in West Africa these days where there are so many people pursuing extra terms, or where there are coups.

“But here in Nigeria, the peaceful transfer of power and the idea of term limits is just part of the widely accepted political culture at the time that is not true in many places in this area.

“Another point of pride to Nigeria is how well you have done this in the 22, 23 years of democratic era.

“I think you go into this process with some advantages, due to the recent electoral act which provides a lot of comfort in BVAS and electronic transmission of results, so I think it can give Nigerian voters extra comfort that their votes is properly handed and counted.

Leonard said  the visa sanctions on anyone who tried to undermine the democratic process remained  very much in place by the U.S government.

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