US AND PUNISHMENT FOR NIGERIA'S ELECTORAL OFFENDERS —
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US AND PUNISHMENT FOR NIGERIA’S ELECTORAL OFFENDERS

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It is fundamental to point out that while African countries such as Mali still remind us that military coup d’état is still an ugly face of governance in Africa, the worst of this trend is, perhaps, the democratic coup d’états being perpetrated through electoral malpractices by political actors with the aid of security personnel and electoral officials.

Electioneering in the continent is akin to war. From Niger, Chad, Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Guinea, Sudan, South Sudan, South Africa, Zambia, Nigeria, Ghana, etc, the stories have been very woeful and despicable.

That is why the report that the United States of America and other established democracies are putting pressure on Nigerian government and politicians against rigging the Edo and Ondo States governorship elections are timely. The US in particular has issued visa restriction to individuals suspected to have participated in inappropriate and undemocratic actions in some of Nigeria’s elections. This is very reflective.

According to the report, Adams Oshiomhole, a former governor of Edo State and ex-National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress; Abdullahi Ganduje, Kano State governor, and Kogi governor, Yahaya Bello, are said to be among those affected by the US visa sanction. Recall that el-Rufai has a subsisting US sanction since 2010, that sanction has been extended.

The information released by Morgan Ortagus, spokesperson for the US Department of State, on Monday indicated that the sanction was connected with actions which were inimical to free electoral or democratic process in Nigeria.

The statement stated that, “In July 2019, we announced the imposition of visa restrictions on Nigerians who undermined the February and March 2019 elections. Today, the Secretary of State is imposing additional visa restrictions on individuals for their actions surrounding the November 2019 Kogi and Bayelsa States elections and in the run up to the September and October 2020 Edo and Ondo States elections.

“These individuals have so far operated with impunity at the expense of the Nigerian people and have undermined democratic principles. The Department of State emphasises that the actions announced today are specific to certain individuals and not directed at the Nigerian people. This decision reflects the Department of State’s commitment to working with the Nigerian Government to realise its expressed commitment to end corruption and strengthen democracy, accountability, and respect for human rights”, it stated.

The US sanction is, admittedly, very strategic; however, we are curious. Is it capable of restoring electoral dignity, transparency and voter freedom Nigeria elections and democracy?

Over the years, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Nigeria’s electoral umpire, has consistently advocated establishment of a special commission that can sanction electoral malpractices through investigation and prosecution. But the politicians in the National Assembly are hell-bent on ensuring that the bill does not see the light of the day for obvious reasons.

Rigging or electoral malpractices are in the political DNA of Nigerian nay African political elites. It boils down to the issue of leadership credibility. Because the unscrupulous and failed political elite are not accepted by voters, they criminally force themselves on the people by crook or hook. That is why Africa is a failed continent today in terms of purposeful leadership index.

We welcome the US repeated democratic sanctions on election riggers and their thugs over the years, but we are of the view that there is an urgent need for the international friends and partners of Nigeria to put more pressure on the corrupt and cruel ‘democratic dictatorship’ in the country and continent.

This is the best way the people’s choice and will can prevail. This is one of the ways to entrench good and accountable governance in the country and enhance security, socioeconomic development, better healthcare, education, food security and a solid foundation for the future of our children.

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