INEC failed to meet Nigerians expectations in presidential polls – US Envoy
Just over a week after Nigeria’s Presidential and National Assembly election, the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard has faulted the presidential polls, stressing that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) failed to meet the expectations of Nigerians in the conduct of the election.
Recall that controversies trailed the election after it emerged that the INEC allegedly did not adhere to the Electoral Act and its own guidelines in the conduct of the exercise. It went ahead to declare Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as winner of the election after polling 8,794,726, almost two million votes more than his closest rival, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who polled 6,984,520 votes, while the candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, came third with 6,101,533.
In a statement on Sunday made available to reporters, the US Envoy said many citizens are angry and frustrated with the results, while some others are celebrating victories, they believe were hard-fought and well-earned.
The US Ambassador stated: “It is clear that the electoral process as a whole on February 25 failed to meet Nigerians’ expectations.
“As I said numerous times prior to the elections, Nigeria has accomplished much in just the two-plus decades since the return to democracy, and a gradual improvement in the quality of its elections in that time constitutes one of those accomplishments.
“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.”
Ambassador Leonard advised INEC to promptly address the challenges ahead of the March 11 governorship and states house of assembly elections, urging the electoral body to undertake a broader review of the problems that transpired during the last elections and what can be done to fix them.
She also commended Nigerians for demonstrating their dedication to democracy, asking INEC to share with the Nigerian public information about the actions it is taking.
Leonard lauded Peter Obi and Atiku Abubakar for their call on their supporters to remain calm as they have taken the legal option to seek redress in the court of law as both candidates have already taken the matter to court.