Congressman makes case for concerted response from Administration
By Akpo Ometan
Strong pressure is mounting on US President, Donald Trump to show greater interest in the ongoing political rumblings in Nigeria.
Responding to the heightened levels of political activity in the country in the build up to the General Elections that culminated in the postponement of the first set of elections, several influential voices within the country are asking the administration to consider a basket of response measures to help ensure that the process is not negatively affected and that the will of the Nigerian people would ultimately prevail.
One such reaction has come from Representative Chris Smith of the US Congress who had infact served as the immediate past chairman of the United States House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa.
In a statement made public on Monday, the lawmaker expressed the view that the responsibility for the delay of Nigeria’s presidential election should be put most squarely at the doorsteps of incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari and his allies.
“Actions in advance of the election — including removal of Supreme Court Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen and arson attacks on Independent National Electoral Commission offices in opposition strongholds — are undermining confidence that this election and subsequent gubernatorial elections will be free and fair.
“At a minimum, the presidential election must meet the 2015 standard, which saw a peaceful transfer of power and a statement by the then-sitting president that all bloodshed must be avoided.
“In addition to being sub-Saharan Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria is its biggest economy, and what happens in Nigeria has ramifications beyond its borders.”
Making specific proposals on what the US should do at this time, the congressman touched on a handful:
“Given the magnitude of global problems Secretary Pompeo must contend with, he should consider appointing a Special Envoy for Nigeria vested with full authority.
“The State Department must use all tools at its disposal, including visa denial and sanctioning authority, to hold accountable those who undermine democracy and foment sectarian and ethnic violence.”
The postponed presidential and national assembly elections are scheduled to hold on Saturday, February 23rd.
US President, Donald Trump