Catriona Laing, British High Commissioner to Nigeria, says the United Kingdom will support the country in delivering credible elections in 2023.
According to NAN, Laing said this on Sunday during an interview in Abuja.
She said the UK is positive that Nigeria will deliver free and fair polls in 2023 as soon as the amended electoral act is enforced.
Laing added that the UK government would monitor the election, just as he has supported the electoral process through the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
“What I have just said now – the advocacy – is showing Nigerians that we care about their democracy, and we are watching it,” she said.
“In a practical way, for many elections, we have been supporting INEC – your electoral body – to ensure it has got the necessary systems and processes in place. And in each election, we have seen INEC improve its processes.
“We were the partner who supported the passing of the electoral act. It was a project that we funded through legal advisors to help you actually write that electoral act and look at best practices globally.
“And it has been instrumental. So, with the passing of that, then the possibility for electronic transmission of votes, the young people feel much more confident that their votes will count.
“So we provided that support, we support civil society, YIAGA’s Not Too Young To Run Campaign, alongside U.S partners, we support that and we have been supporting women groups, in particular, to encourage young women, more women to try and stand for political offices.
“We are supporting voter education, encouraging voters to understand the importance of going out to vote. So we are involved in a number of different ways.
“I should say we always say that each election alongside our US partners that we will have eyes on; we will be monitoring this election closely on the ground and through other means.
“And if we understand that an individual has been involved in violence, either directly or through inciting violence, we can use our visa programme to ensure that that person is not allowed to travel to the UK.
“So we do have some negative levers as well as our positive levers.”
The high commissioner also said the visa sanction on electoral offenders is effective to prevent citizens from involving in violence during the polls.
“They (visa sanctions) absolutely do work. Obviously, I cannot talk about individual names, but I can assure you we have used it and the whole point of it is to deter people,” she added.
“The political parties tell me that they think it does work. In fact, during the last election, both APC and the PDP told me they welcomed it.
“We are completely neutral, and we would apply this to whoever may be engaged in violence.
“Nigeria is the biggest democracy in Africa and your part of the world where democracy is backsliding.
“Looking at what is happening in Mali, Guinea and others, the coups, and the presidents who are refusing to step down when their term ends, as well as Nigeria’s journey to democracy since 1999, you know, it’s been rocky at times.
“But you have continued on that pathway, and that sends a very, very important signal to Africa, that if Nigeria can do it — the biggest democracy in Africa with all the challenges you have with 36 states, and with the complexity of ethnicity and religion, and so on – they can do it too.
“No election in the world is perfect, nevertheless, the journey continues. And I am hopeful that the next election will be credible.”