The United Nations on Thursday backed the idea of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to use card readers during the rescheduled March 28 presidential elections in Nigeria, stressing the need for all Nigeria’s political parties to create a conducive environment for the elections.
Speaking during his visit to Nigeria, the United Nations Political Envoy, Mr. Jeffrey Feltman, lauded the efforts of the electoral umpire for its ability to distribute Permanent Voters Cards and the testing of card readers despite a tight schedule and logistical challenges.
He pressed further that the efforts of the Jega-led INEC to implement the use of card readers during the polls should help Nigerians and the international community build their confidence in the country’s electoral system and pave the way for the holding of credible and inclusive elections. He also said that the electoral commission had made “noteworthy” progress in the preparations for the upcoming elections.
Speaking further, the United Nations top official noted that it was only the ability of Nigeria’s politicians to prevent heating up the polity that could guarantee credible and bloodless electoral process in the country.
Flanked by the Secretary-General’s High-Level Representative to Nigeria, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Mr. Feltman insisted on the need for electoral and political officials to continue working together to creating an environment conducive to the holding of violence-free and credible elections. He added that only a conducive environment could make eligible Nigerians to freely exercise their constitutional right to vote including those displaced by violence in the northeast.
He however commended President Goodluck Jonathan of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the presidential candidate of the All Progressive Party (APC), Major General Muhammadu Buhari, for their commitment to the so-called Abuja Accord aimed at preventing election-related violence.
“Given the important role Nigeria plays in the region and globally, the international community is closely watching the elections in Nigeria and that any persons responsible for violence will be held accountable,” Mr. Feltman stated.
Turning to the situation in the country’s northeast, where Government forces are currently fighting the militant group Boko Haram, Mr. Feltman reiterated UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon’s message that no cause or grievance can justify the insurgent group’s “continuing indiscriminate and brutal attacks” against the region’s civilian populations.