US Ambassador says Presidential Election Failed to Meet Nigerians’ Expectations

  • Welcomes Obi, Atiku’s statements committing to take legal route
  • Wants INEC to address all challenges that can be resolved ahead of the March 11 guber poll
United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Leonard,

The United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Leonard, yesterday declared that the last presidential election conducted in the country failed to meet the citizens’ expectations.

In an op-ed, the US ambassador stated that although the people of Nigeria demonstrated their dedication to democracy on February 25, there were still many angry and frustrated Nigerians.

On the other hand, she narrated that there are also many Nigerians who are celebrating victories they believe were hard-fought and well-earned.

However, she cautioned that it will be important for the future of the country that Nigerians do not let their differences divide them, and that the legally established process for resolving challenges to the election be allowed to take its course.

The ambassador Leonard, welcomed the resolve of  Mr. Peter Obi and Mr. Atiku Abubakar for their recent statements committing to take the legal route, and Mr. Bola Tinubu, who the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the president-elect under Nigeria’s electoral framework, for acknowledging their right to do so.

“The United States is no stranger to election-related controversy and conflict.   As much as it can be unsatisfying to end an electoral process in a courtroom, in a constitutional democracy bound by the rule of law that is where electoral conflicts may appropriately conclude.

“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.

“We recognise that Nigerians want that positive trend to continue, including through the use of new technology intended to make the process of reporting results more transparent,” Leonard added.

She reiterated the call on INEC to address promptly the challenges that can be resolved ahead of the March 11 gubernatorial elections, and to undertake a broader review of the problems that transpired during the last elections and what can be done to fix them.

In all cases, the US ambassador advised that INEC should share with the Nigerian public information about the actions it is taking.

She also highlighted some of the ‘remarkable’ results from the past election that show how Nigeria’s political landscape ‘is indisputably changing’.

Leonard stated further that in more than half of the states, 20 in all, the winning candidate represented a different party than that of the incumbent governor.

Twelve of these states, she said, are led by All Progressives Congress (APC) governors while for the first time, four presidential candidates won at least one state, and the top three each won 12 states based on these initial results.

Commenting on the National Assembly elections, Leonard stated that even with results still incomplete, the US already knows that changes are afoot with seven sitting governors losing in their attempts to win election to the Assembly.

She stated that the Labour Party (LP) has won at least seven seats in the Senate while the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) has won at least 11 seats in the House of Representatives.

“The Nigerian people have made clear their desire for responsive and inclusive governance, and we strongly support their ability to express that desire.

“The United States and Nigeria are the two largest presidential democracies in the world, and long-time partners.  As Nigeria goes through these next weeks and months, we stand with you,” the ambassador emphasized.

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