The United States of America has expressed its interest in Nigeria’s 2019 elections, outlining the election as well as a peaceful transition as a priority due to the country’s strategic position in the West African sub-region.
This was made known by the US during a background briefing on the first trip of the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Africa. Tillerson is set to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari and other top government officials, as well as leaders of Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Djibouti in the course of his trips which commences from March 6 to 13.
The department recalled that over two decades ago, very few countries in Africa practiced democracy in Africa, which was about three or four. However, in the present era it noted:
“now we had over two dozens African countries with democratically elected governments and which are hopefully not going to have transitions in government through coup d’etats and other illegal methods.”
“As we look at the 20 elections, obviously Nigeria, though it’s not this year – it’s going to be next year – that really is a major priority focus, because that’s going to be the third most populous country in the world by 2050.
“It has really very complex political issues and ethnic and tribal issues and security issues,
“And that’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,” the state department said.
The department also pointed out that a majority of African countries still had fragile democratic governments, which the US was hoping to help strengthen. The US also expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the recent elections in Liberia, stating that it was the first open, fair and peaceful transition of government in over 75 years, pointing out its significance.
It regretted what it described as the “horrendous rule of Charles Taylor and the degradation of the institutions there, but now we’ll going back and they’re building, and I think with the election of George Weah that’s going to be a positive thing.”
The US further commended the election of Nana Akuffo-Addo in Ghana, Macky Sall in Senegal and Alassane Ouattara in Cote d’Ivoire, describing them as notable and positive developments in African democracy. Meanwhile, it noted that Ethiopia was a challenge although plans are being put in motion to assist.