United States Republican Congressman, Chris Smith, has called on APC presidential candidate and incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor, former President Goodluck Jonathan, in ensuring a free and fair election on Saturday, February 23.
Backstory: In a letter to President Buhari entitled, ‘On the Postponement of Elections in Nigeria’, Smith who serves on the House sub-committee on Africa and was once the Chairman of the sub-committee, urged the president to ensure that the 2019 polls don’t fall below the 2015 benchmark.
Blaming Buhari and those around him for the postponement of the elections, Smith said, “Responsibility for the delay of Nigeria’s presidential election lies squarely with President Muhammadu Buhari and those close to him. Actions in advance of the election — including removal of Supreme Court Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen and arson attacks on Independent National Electoral Commission offices in opposition strongholds — are undermining confidence that this election and subsequent gubernatorial elections will be free and fair. At a minimum, the presidential election must meet the 2015 standard, which saw a peaceful transfer of power and a statement by the then-sitting president that all bloodshed must be avoided.”
Reiterating what the US congress had earlier said about the elections and how it’ll reflect Nigeria to the international community, Smith also said, “In addition to being sub-Saharan Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria is its biggest economy, and what happens in Nigeria has ramifications beyond its borders.”
Smith also called on actions similar to that of the UK to be taken by the US, to further emphasise the repercussions that await those who hinder the democratic process of incite violence during the elections.
“The State Department must use all tools at its disposal, including visa denial and sanctioning authority, to hold accountable those who undermine democracy and foment sectarian and ethnic violence.”
There’s been no response so far from the federal government to Smith’s letter, but considering the strong positions which the FG has taken against foreign actors commenting on our elections, it won’t be a surprise if we hear a response soon.