The United States says it is not supporting any candidate for the February 16 presidential election in Nigeria.
Dismissing news and perceptions of partisanship, the US embassy in Nigeria released a statement to say the country’s over $1 billion aid to Nigeria will continue, no matter who wins the elections on Saturday.
Earlier, Festus Keyamo, spokesman of President Muhammadu Buhari reelection campaign, said the United States has displayed its double standard for the world to see, by protecting and seemingly supporting Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party.
Keyamo said that Stuart Symington, the US ambassador to Nigeria, “seems to be saying that only a PDP victory will be evidence of a fair election”.
But in a message from Symington on Tuesday, the US envoy stated categorically that his country was not backing any candidate at all, adding that his country supports a level playing field.
“The United States Embassy in Nigeria wishes to reiterate unequivocally that we are not taking sides in Nigeria’s election. We do not support any party or candidate,” the statement read.
“We support a level playing field and the democratic process. That is the bedrock principle of our Government’s advocacy on democratic elections.
“In the final run-up to the Feb. 16 vote, fake news and rumours are operating in overdrive. But it must be repeated: we are not taking sides.
“This is Nigeria’s election and the citizens of Nigeria will decide who will lead their nation. It is important for the future of every Nigerian and it is important that every Nigerian contribute to making it a democratic, peaceful, free and fair process.
“This will ensure that all Nigerians see the results as credible, and they accept them. This will empower Nigeria’s democracy going forward, as did the elections of 2015.
The US stated that no matter who wins the election, its contributions to Nigeria will remain, stating that America is an enduring friend of Nigeria.
“The United States is Nigeria’s long-term and enduring friend. We provide more than $1 billion in assistance and help save more than 2 million lives of Nigerians each year through our health and humanitarian assistance. This will not change. We are Nigeria’s good partner, and this will continue after this democratic election – no matter who wins.
“This election is Nigeria’s, but it is also important for Nigeria’s neighbours and for the world. Nigeria has long played a great leadership role in the region and beyond as a force for democratic stability.
“The credible electoral results of 2015 empowered Nigeria to play that role. The United States looks forward to a similar result this week.
“We support the democratic process and the work of the Independent National Electoral Commission in managing the elections. We call on every Nigerian citizen, official, party member, and the security forces to peacefully support Nigeria’s democratic process in accordance with Nigerian law.
“The United States welcomed the signing of Peace Accords by the candidates for President and other offices. Now is the time to grow that peace by ensuring all get the message and put it into action so that both the voting and the aftermath are peaceful and fully respect the democratic process.
“Peace benefits all Nigerians and peace is the responsibility of every citizen as you work together to ensure your elections are free, fair, transparent, and credible.”