The United Kingdom has expressed concerns over the level of insecurity and the potential for violence ahead of the 2015 general election in Nigeria.
This was as it harped on the role of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure that the elections are credible, fair and safe.
The Permanent Secretary at the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), Mr. Mark Lowcock, made these comments according to a statement made available by the British High Commission in Abuja.
Lowcock expressed the readiness of the UK to work with INEC and other stakeholders for credible polls through its Deepening Democracy in Nigeria 2 (DDiN2) Programme.
DDiN2 is a £35million programme from 2014 –2018 to strengthen democratic governance in Nigeria. Its objective is more efficient, effective and responsive political, electoral and democratic institutions.
“Nigeria matters. For the 180 million Nigerians living in it, it matters for Africa and it matters for the UK. This global focus on Nigeria represents an important moment for the country. As Africa’s biggest democracy, countries look to Nigeria to lead the continent in many ways. Delivering credible elections in 2015 are a key pillar of that leadership,” he said.
He added that supporting the 2015 elections in Nigeria would be a vital part of DFID’s global commitment to support freer and fairer elections across the globe.
“The programme is working across the electoral cycle to strengthen presidential, national and state elections and mitigate the risks of violence. Elections on their own do not ensure democratization,” he added.
Commenting on the upcoming elections in Ekiti and Osun states, Lowcock expressed hope that the polls would reflect INEC’s successful electoral management, working together with political parties and security agencies.
“…and the potential for peaceful elections to be conducted fairly between credible candidates, with a more engaged electorate, and civil society working together to support this process,” he added.
The DDiN2, he said, is also working with the National Assembly, and encouraging a broader and more engaged electorate, in particular women and youth, to make a more informed choice at the ballot box.
Lowcock is expected to hold meetings in Abuja to review DFID’s progress in implementing its development programme. He is also expected to travel to Lagos to see some of DFID’s education and economic growth programmes and meet investors and economists to discuss the economic climate in the country.