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2023: UK is watching Nigeria closely – British High Commissioner tells politicians

2023: UK is watching Nigeria closely - British High Commissioner tells politicians %Post Title
























With 92 days to the first round of 2023 general elections, the international community is stepping up its observatory role of the exercise. Days after the United States threatened visa ban on election riggers, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Cateriona Lang, yesterday, said the United Kingdom (UK) will be watching the elections in Nigeria very closely.

According to her, this is because of the important position occupied by the country in Africa and the rest of the world. Lang said this during a meeting with the National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the party’s National Secretariat in Abuja.

She said: “This election is very important to Africa and parts of the world, so the spotlight will be on Nigeria and UK will be watching closely.”

Lang added that UK is engaging with key stakeholders in the elections in so many ways. “We have spoken with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and civil societies. We don’t support any political party, it is for the people of Nigeria to decide who will lead them at the Federal level and state levels. In that spirit, we are meeting all the main political parties.

“I met with the Chairman in February, this is our second meeting and I will be meeting all the other chairs of the main political parties,” she added.

On key issues of concerns in the elections, Lang said: “The few things that are on my mind, just to make sure that the elections go very well, number one is security, and we have been really concerned about the recent events, 52 election violence-related issues in 22 states, including an attack on the PDP convoy in Maiduguri. That is a real concern.

“When people feel intimidated, they can’t get out to vote, the election itself will not be credible, that is why the violence is of great concern,” she stressed.

On the issue of electoral violence, Lang said: “We do have sanctions in the form of our Visa programme. We will also be watching closely any individual who acts violently or incites people through the social media. We do have the possibility of using our Visas as sanction by removing peoples rights to visit UK.

“We will be watching closely. These apply to all the political parties, not just the parties alone, but security officials and anybody who might be in that position.

“The really important thing is to get the votes out, whatever political party you are, the election will be credible, if the votes are high. It was low last time, around 35 per cent turnout.

“There is also the issue of registration of young voters. That is a real positive and we hope that they would turn out to vote on the day of election, because it will make the election much more credible.” Speaking on behalf of PDP, the National Secretary, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, said the party has an unwavering faith in democracy and the democratic process.

He said: “PDP is the party that was able to fling the military out of power and is the first political party that started democracy in Nigeria.

“That is why it is embedded in every nook and cranny of this country. PDP has structures in every unit in Nigeria. Everybody knows what happened in 2015 was an aberration, we won that election and it was stolen.

“In 2019, we won again and it was stolen, but we believe in 2023, by February 25, PDP will come back to power, because we have put every structure on ground.

“We believe that in 2019 there was voter apathy, but this time around in 2023, a lot of the younger generation want to be involved, they want to change leadership, because it has affected them.

“We believe that with the BVAS, which INEC is able to introduce it is not going to be business as usual and that is why we keep praying for INEC to maintain what they have promised to Nigerians.”

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