Nigeria has made “noteworthy” progress in the preparations for the upcoming elections, the top United Nations political official said today, as he wrapped up a visit to the country, whose citizens will head to the polls beginning on 28 March.
Speaking at a press conference in the capital, Abuja, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman lauded the efforts of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), citing the distribution of Permanent Voters Cards and the testing of card readers, despite a tight schedule and logistical challenges.
“We believe that that these efforts should help to build confidence in the electoral system among the Nigerian voters and pave the way for the holding of credible and inclusive elections.”
During the visit, during which he was accompanied by the Secretary-General's High-Level Representative to Nigeria, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Mr. Feltman met with key national, electoral and political officials to encourage them “to continue working together to creating an environment conducive to the holding of violence-free and credible elections and ensuring that all eligible Nigerians can freely exercise their constitutional right to vote including those displaced by violence in the northeast.”
The UN political chief commended President Goodluck Jonathan and the presidential candidate of the All Progressive Party (APC), Major General Muhammadu Buhari, for their commitment to the so-called Abuja Accord aimed at preventing election-related violence.
“Given the important role Nigeria plays in the region and globally, the international community is closely watching the elections in Nigeria and that any persons responsible for violence will be held accountable,” Mr. Feltman stated.
Turning to the situation in the country’s northeast, where Government forces are currently fighting the militant group Boko Haram, Mr. Feltman said he reiterated Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message that no cause or grievance can justify the insurgent group’s “continuing indiscriminate and brutal attacks” against the region’s civilian populations.
Moreover, he said that while Mr. Ban welcomed the positive military steps taken by countries in the region in countering Boko Haram, a more holistic approach would be required to foil any future threat by such extremist groups.
“While security measures are essential, an exclusive reliance on a military approach would not suffice to counter the Boko Haram insurgency,” he explained. “Countering Boko Haram effectively and permanently should be based on a multi-dimensional approach that addresses human rights concerns and promotes good governance and economic and social development.”