BY LAWRENCE ETIM.
The United States Assistant Secretary of State, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Thursday told an audience of the diplomatic community and Nigerians that US and indeed the world are expecting a free and fair election in 2015 from the Africa’s biggest economy.
Thomas-Greenfield who was a guest lecturer of the Ambassador Andrew Young Lecture Series initiated by the African Society of the National Summit on Africa held at the Nigerian embassy in Washington yesterday, said she was using the opportunity offered by the Chevron powered lecture to share her experiences in her recent visit to Nigeria, while espousing the Barrack Obama administration’s vision for Africa in general.
At an exclusive interview after the lecture, the assistant secretary of state said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, made a commitment to her that the 2015 elections would be better than that of 2011, “but what we are saying is that the 2011 election as a yardstick was largely fair and transparent.
“We believe that the 2011 election was adjudged worldwide as one of Nigeria’s best and if INEC can maintain that track record that will be great. All eyes are on Nigeria and it must get this election right,” she said. According to her, Africa in 2014 will be conducting 14 elections, “and we expect these elections to be peaceful and transparent, a true reflection of the will of the people. “Leaders must ensure that elections are free, fair and transparent; any tampering of votes is a violation of the trust of the people,” she explained.
The assistant secretary of state observed that, unlike in the US, over 75 percent of the voting population in Nigeria and Africa in general come out to vote on election day, “and these are mostly ordinary people who defy rain and sun to vote for their preferred candidate. “You need to help them get what they want and avoid a resort to constitutional amendment that help people hold on to power, and if I should quote Kofi Anan, no government should alter constitution to hold on to power,” she added.