Over 100 UK Observers to Monitor Nigeria’s Presidential Election

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Ms Catriona Laing

Lekan Fatodu

It has been confirmed that over 100 observers from the United Kingdom (UK) will monitor Nigeria’s Presidential and National Assembly election coming up this Saturday. It is not surprising that the UK, one of Nigeria’s closest foreign allies, will be deploying such significant manpower to ensure successful running of the election.

Indeed, it is important to note that the utterances of some Nigerian politicians, most of which are filled with inflammatory comments and threats, have heightened interests and call for caution by many countries friendly to Nigeria including the UK.

And being one of the major advocates of credible elections and sustainable democracy the world over, the UK is duty bound to help shape the process whenever and wherever the need arises.

Meanwhile, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ms Catriona Laing, who made the disclosure, reiterated the commitment of the UK government to supporting free, fair and credible elections in the country. She also added that Nigeria’s sovereignty would be totally considered in their engagement during the electoral exercise.

“As an independent observer country, we respect Nigeria’s sovereignty; it is our job to stand with the people of Nigeria in this democratic journey. The process is what matters to us. This is why we will be deploying over 100 observers covering 15 states to support observer missions from the European Union, United States Diplomatic Mission in Nigeria and other local observers,” Laing said.

“We are confident that many things have been put in place since 2015 to strengthen the process. We’ve invested heavily as a partner with the Independent National Electoral Commission and civil societies to strengthen those institutions and make the process stronger,” she said.

That said, it is worth noting that the interventions of some foreign states, particularly on this imminent Presidential election in Nigeria, have given reasons for a section of the public to be doubtful of the real position or intention of these countries in the affairs of Nigeria.

For instance, the governing party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), fielding the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari for re-election, has particularly accused the government of United States (US) of undue interference and support for the opposition candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar to emerge winner of the election.
The APC made the allegations against the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. W. Stuart Symington, who the party accused of double standards.

Though the ambassador has refuted all of the APC’s claims and stated categorically that his country has no interest in whoever emerges winner in the election and that the government was only concerned with ensuring violence-free and credible elections, this moment also calls for circumspection on the part of foreign governments in their pronouncements on the affairs of sovereign countries.

Similarly, Nigeria and other African countries that usually get unsettled when they are hit back with hard facts and strong admonitions on the failings and unimpressive developments within their shores should genuinely get provoked to do better instead of whining at every instructive counsel.

Indeed, Nigeria must use this 2019 Presidential election to prove to our friends all over the world that we are growing and value the principles of true democracy and decent election devoid of violence and other shameful malpractices.