The United States of America has said Nigeriaâ€™s 2019 general election and a peaceful transition are its major priority in view of the countryâ€™s strategic position in the region.
The US Department of State, said this during a background briefing on the first trip of Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, to Africa.
Tillerson would meet with Nigeriaâ€™s President Muhammadu Buhari and other top government functionaries, and also leaders of Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya during his travels from today to 13.
The department said over two decades ago, the number of countries in Africa with really democratically elected government were really very few â€“ only three or four.
It said, however, now we have over two dozen African countries with democratically elected governments and which are hopefully not going to have transitions in government through coup dâ€™etats and other illegal methods.
â€œAs we look at the 2019 elections, obviously Nigeria, though itâ€™s not this year â€“ itâ€™s going to be next year â€“ that really is a major priority focus, because thatâ€™s going to be the third most populous country in the world by 2050.
â€œIt has really very complex political issues and ethnic and tribal issues and security issues,
â€œAnd thatâ€™s an area that we really are focusing on how to do a peaceful transition, a democratic transition, but more important is how to hold governments accountable to the people,â€ the state department said.
The department explained that obviously, a lot of those African countries were still fragile democracies and the U.S. was trying to strengthen them.
The US commended the most recent elections in Liberia, saying it was the first open, fair, and peaceful transition of governments in over 75 years, saying that is a good thing.
It regretted what it called the â€œhorrendous rule of Charles Taylor and the degradation of the institutions there, but now weâ€™ll going back and theyâ€™re building, and I think with the election of George Weah thatâ€™s going to be a positive thingâ€.
The US, according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), also noted the election of Nana Akufo-Addo in Ghana, Alassane Ouattara in Cote dâ€™Ivoire and Macky Sall in Senegal, describing them as you positive developments.
It said, however, that Ethiopia remained a challenge for the US and a focus for it as well and an opportunity.
The US explained that it was looking at trying to build institutions, really strengthen institutions, and also have peaceful transitions and hold governments accountable to the people in Ethiopia.
It said it was also looking at how it could have reconciliation and dialogues between all of the different groups â€“ the Oromos, the Amharas, the Tigrays, and also in Kenya with the opposition and with the ruling government.
Accordingly, the department said building strong institutions and holding governments accountable are some of the things that are certainly going to be the subjects of discussion during Tillerson trip.
â€œHow do we advance political and economic reform that will help in the transition process? Those are issues too that weâ€™re working in Zimbabwe with the transition between Robert Mugabe and Emmerson Mnangagwa.
â€œAnd also weâ€™re looking hopefully at South Africa with the election of Cyril Ramaphosa from Jacob Zuma and seeing how thatâ€™s going to transition,â€ the state department said.