The United Kingdom is interested in Nigeria’s general elections because they are crucial to the African continent and the global community, British High Commissioner in Nigeria Catriona Laing has said.
Laing spoke in Abuja yesterday when she visited the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The British envoy observed that one of the electoral challenges in Nigeria has been low voter turnout.
She suggested that the two countries should find means of collectively inspiring Nigerian youth to believe in their politics and in the future of their country.
Laing said: “We look forward to seeing how much this election matters. Nigeria has been on a democratic journey since 1999. And that, in itself is something to be very proud of.
“You are in a region, unfortunately, where democracy is backsliding. I know in Nigeria, your President has taken a very clear forward position on that and in ECOWAS and so on.
“So the world will be watching this election, and hoping it goes well. So it matters, obviously, for the people of Nigeria, it matters for Africa, and it matters for the world.
“You’re one of the largest democracies globally. And we want you to stay (part) of that global community.
“That’s a very important objective for our government to talk about building a network of liberty likeminded countries and also a democratic global alliance. That’s our hope and aspiration for Nigeria.”
The British envoy added that the UK’s aspiration was for the 2023 elections to be credible enough to win the confidence of Nigerians.
“We will not be taking a stance beyond that. Obviously, we’ll be following the interests, the manifestos and the policies.
“We’ll be hoping for a good policy that will enable Nigeria to move forward and take its rightful place in the global community,” she said.
PDP National Chairman Dr. Iyorchia Ayu said the party was strongly committed to the democratic process.
Ayu noted that the PDP charted the path to democratic culture during its 16 years in power, adding that the party still enjoys the support of majority Nigerians.
“We were able to win elections from the beginning in 1999. We led in building democratic institutions, quite a number of institutions that exist today.
“We also continue to win elections because of popular support that we received in Nigeria across the country, including the international community that came to support what we were doing.
“Along the line, in a commitment to democracy, we had an election which we lost. We accepted defeat because of our deep beliefs in the democratic process.
“So we are not happy to be in opposition for the last six years. No party wants to be in opposition.
“We have been working very hard to rebuild the party to make sure that Nigerians have confidence in us as a party.
“I want to say that the signs are there that Nigerians believe that we are the only organic party in this country.
”On that note, I want to assure you that we will not deviate from the democratic journey and we expect all other parties in this country to also try as much as possible to uphold the tenets of democracy which is free and fair elections.
“We expect all umpire institutions, including the Independent National Electoral Commission, to carry out their work without bias against us as a major opposition party,” Ayu said.
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