The United States government has warned that it would refuse visas for anyone found culpable in encouraging electoral violence or undermining the 2023 process, insisting that it neither had a preferred candidate nor a political party for the 2023 general elections in Nigeria.
Consular General (Nigeria), Mr. Will Stevens stated this in Asaba, Delta State, in the first in a series of OpenGov Town Hall meetings in the Niger Delta region organized by the auspices of the Niger-Delta Open Observatory, NOGO, cluster supported by the USAID Strengthening Civic Advocacy and Local Engagement (SCALE) project implemented by Palladium.
Stevens said the American government was only interested in free, fair, and credible polls and the people expressed delight at the Electoral Act which he said, has good measures to strengthen voting security.
He said: “The US does not have a preferred candidate, full stop! We are not interested in a particular party or candidate. What we are interested in is a free, fair, and credible election that represents the people.
“Nigeria is the fifth largest democracy in the world so when the people of Nigeria come to vote, you are showing the strength of democracy to the rest of the world.”
He said the US had been working with the Nigerian government as partners to support the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC, and civil society organizations to enable them to hold candidates accountable.
Stevens also disclosed that the US has provided nearly 50 million dollars in technical assistance to the electoral umpire to strengthen the mechanisms that will allow Nigerians to feel comfortable that their votes will count.
“We in the United States will discourage any politician citizen sons and other parties who are encouraging electoral violence or seeking to undermine the electoral process.
“One thing we have done in the past and continue to do is that those who seek to undermine the democratic process can and will be found ineligible for a visa to the US,” he said.
Stevens said his mission to Delta state and the South-East was for pre-election monitoring to look and see how things are developing. He added that the consulate is doing all within its powers to understand what is happening and articulate such to US citizens.