By John Ikani
United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard has disclosed that her country is monitoring the state of affairs in Nigeria, particulary the Amended Electoral Bill awaiting President Muhammadu Buhari’s assent.
The Ambassador made this known while speaking on the sideline of the ongoing Town Hall Meeting of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE).
According to her, the US would not give President Buhari a timeline to sign the bill, but expects a free, fair and credible election in 2023.
“Concerns were expressed about environmental factors… if the elections will hold, indeed there were. There are many things required for productive electoral exercise in 2023, including the amendments in the electoral law. The US will not hold a hammer to say what the timeline for signing the Bill will be but we look forward to Nigerians working together to make sure elections are credible,” she said.
Leonard went on to disclose that President Joe Biden would, in December 2022, convene a Democracy Summit for world leaders to discuss and see how to improve democracy in their country.
Admitting that the United States democracy has also faced challenges, Leonard clarified that the democracy summit is not being convened from the position of arrogance but a position of humility for world leaders to learn from one another other.
She said: “In December, President Biden will convene a virtual democracy summit with world leaders.
“The US does not want to analyse what is wrong with Nigeria’s democracy from the position of arrogance because we have gone through some difficult challenges too.
“We want to convene the political summit from a position of humility where we want everyone to come together to make some commitment on what we want to work on in ourselves.
“In the case of the United States, it is things like confidence and transparency in the media about the conduct of elections and the electoral system, enhancing the civic capacity, harnessing technology for democratic rule.”
On insecurity in Nigeria, she said the US assistance to ending insecurity is not limited to the provision of military hardware but also in addressing the root causes of the problem.
She said: “The US is in partnership with Nigeria to curb insecurity not only in the formal sense of re-enforcing the military or making their operations more robust but also in unearthing the causes of this insecurity.
“There are many but most often the common cause is lack of opportunity for youths which is why the United States takes a holistic approach to support Nigeria in security. The United States approach is in programmes that expand agricultural production and encourage the robust textile sector which is one of the great sources of economic growth in this country. We think it is important to do more which is something we hope to strengthen our interaction.”