By Uche Amunike
The United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard has called on Nigerians to stay united and apply legal process in resolving all the discrepancies that were witnessed at the recently concluded presidential election held on February 25, 2023.
Speaking, through an article titled ‘The Elections of February 25’ and dated March 5, the United States envoy stated that even though it could be unsatisfying to end most electoral processes in court, law courts remained the best place to ideally end electoral conflicts, especially in a constitutional democracy that respects the rule of law.
According to her, the February 25th presidential election fell below the expectations of Nigerians. She therefore made a call to the electoral umpire, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to see that they addressed all problems promptly so as to avoid a repeat of them in the gubernatorial election which will take place on March 11.
Her words: ‘The people of Nigeria demonstrated their dedication to democracy on February 25, but there are many angry and frustrated Nigerians, as well as many who are celebrating victories they believe were hard-fought and well-earned.’
‘In the coming days, it will be important for the future of this country that Nigerians not let their differences divide them, and that the legally established process for resolving challenges to the election be allowed to take its course.’
‘We commend Mr. Obi and Mr. Abubakar for their recent statements, committing to take this path, and Mr. Tinubu, who INEC declared the president-elect under Nigeria’s electoral framework, for acknowledging their right to do so.’
She encouraged INEC to make the effort to assess the problems that transpired during the February 25 polls from a larger perspective so as to seek ways to provide solutions for them. She also gave an admonishment to the electoral umpire, directing them to endeavor to inform the Nigerian people at every step, about any actions they decide to take during the elections because Nigerias have made it clear that they need an inclusive and responsive government. Leonard stated that the United States was solidly behind every Nigerian for being able to express that desire.
Her words: ‘The Nigerian people have made clear their desire for responsive and inclusive governance, and we strongly support their ability to express that desire.’
She also noted that the electoral landscape in Nigeria was ‘indisputably’ changing because, for the first time, four presidential candidates came victorious in at least one state and the top three won 12 states individually, based on the initial results.
She also averred that the USA and Nigeria have been long time partners, describing them as the the largest democracies worldwide, which was why they had the resolve to give them all the needed support as they forge ahead in the coming weeks and months.
Hear her: ‘The United States and Nigeria are the two largest presidential democracies in the world and longtime partners. As Nigeria goes through these next weeks and months, we stand with you.’