By Akanimo Sampson
An American non-governmental organization with a global concern, International Republican Institute (IRI) has said that many Nigerians believe the country’s armed security forces are motivated by political agenda.
The group however, wants the US to re-double her efforts to engage the Nigerian government on this issue and to demonstrate to the Nigerian people that Washington stands with them as they approach yet another important general election next year.
US has been playing a constructive and necessary role in previous elections to support her ally through a complex process fraught with technical and political challenges including many potential trigger points for violence.
John Tomaszewski, the International Republican Institute’s Regional Director for Africa who made these known says insecurity, combined with heightened political tensions, is raising the likelihood of political and/or communal violence, which would disproportionally affect vulnerable populations such as internally displaced persons (IDPs).
‘’Should existing conflicts remain unresolved and/or the threat of violence intensify, this could deter enthusiasm or prevent citizens from participating in the election’’, he said.
For the group, ‘’in light of these complex and difficult circumstances, it is incumbent on security services in Nigeria to ensure a safe and secure environment for citizens to exercise their right to vote and to contribute to public confidence in the overall electoral process.
‘’Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should also expedite the review of the 2015 IDP voting framework to accommodate the rising number of IDPs, to prevent their disenfranchisement in the 2019 elections.
‘’With sufficient political will and through coordinated efforts by all stakeholders — including the international community — many of the challenges outlined above can be addressed in a manner that enhances citizen confidence and participation in elections and mitigates electoral violence.
‘’Ultimately, the most important consideration should be the Nigerian people, who expect to have the opportunity to select their leader in a free, fair, credible and violence-free process.’’
In this capacity, Tomaszewski leads the overall strategic direction and management of IRI’s multi-million-dollar project portfolio in Sub-Saharan Africa. He currently oversees active IRI democracy and governance projects in 17 countries across the subcontinent as well as regional initiatives in The Sahel, Great Lakes and Southern Africa.