The Guardian
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Tasks before the new government


NIGERIA’s more than 70 million voters went to the polls to choose their country’s leader for the next four years. Whether the victor is incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan or opposition challenger General Muhammadu Buhari is entirely for Nigerians to decide. Around the globe, Nigeria’s friends were united in hoping that the vote would be peaceful, transparent, and fair and that – win or lose – all sides will respect the outcome.

There are good reasons why the international spotlight is firmly fixed on Nigeria during this critical period and why we have come together to support an open and credible electoral process. Nigeria is Africa’s largest democracy and what happens there will have an impact well beyond its borders. A successful election, free from violence and with wide participation, accurate vote counting, and responsible leadership from the candidates would inspire the region and spur future progress and prosperity. It would also be a historic show of support by Nigerians for democratic values and an equally firm rejection of the brutal terrorist group, Boko Haram, and others who advocate or perpetrate violence.

As friends and democratic partners of Nigeria, we are heartened by the fact that Nigerians from across the political spectrum appear to recognise the necessity of inaugurating a new president by the constitutionally mandated deadline of May 29. Obviously, we share Nigerians’ concerns about violence, both related to elections and more generally. In 2011, more than 800 people died in post-election clashes, and a recent survey shows that half of Nigerians are concerned about political intimidation this time around. The good news is that President Jonathan and General Buhari have repeatedly and publicly stressed their commitment to non-violence before, during, and after election day. Both candidates have affirmed their intent to act solely through legal channels in pursuing any concerns that might arise regarding the fairness of the vote. It is imperative that they – and their backers – live up to this pledge. Elections should be decided at the ballot box and, if necessary, in the courts; not through efforts to coerce others. Respect for the constitutional process and the independence of Nigeria’s Independent National Election Commission (INEC) is the right approach, and the only one that offers a sustainable way to address Nigeria’s many challenges.

The countries we represent, the United States and the United Kingdom, strongly support the pledges articulated by the Nigerian candidates. The elections must be decided in accordance with the rule of law. It follows that any person who incites violence at any stage in the electoral process, or who seeks power through unconstitutional means, should be held accountable and should understand that the consequences will be severe, both domestically and internationally.

After an election, it is natural to focus attention on the winner, but in any democracy, the unsuccessful candidates also have critical roles to play. No one expects any political leader to retreat from firmly-held policy positions or beliefs, but a losing candidate owes it to his or her country to acknowledge defeat as soon as the popular verdict is clear, to urge supporters to accept the outcome, and to advocate unity in the face of national threats. That is the kind of leadership Nigeria needs.

A free, fair, and peaceful presidential election does not guarantee a successful democracy, but it is nevertheless an essential ingredient – especially now in Nigeria. This is a country rich in resources and blessed by a creative and dynamic population. Its leaders can be extremely effective as evidenced by their swift action to prevent Ebola from establishing a foothold in their nation – thus saving thousands of lives. Overall economic growth rates are healthy and parts of the country are doing well. And yet, Nigeria has been held back by local tensions, a wide disparity between rich and poor, the lack of an adequate safety net for the disadvantaged, shortages of electricity, a rigid bureaucracy, and widespread corruption. These challenges have made the country vulnerable to internal conflict including the kidnappings, murders, and other atrocities perpetrated by Boko Haram. Nigeria’s next government will need the support of all its citizens to address these challenges, and its unity will make it easier, on the security side, for regional neighbours and the larger international community to provide necessary help.

We urge all eligible Nigerians to resist those who attempt to incite violence, and to come together as one country to defend against terrorist threats and to build the shared prosperity and enduring freedom all Nigerian citizens deserve.

• John Kerry is United States Secretary of State and Phillip Hammond is British Foreign Minister

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  • Hinds Peter

    With the white man maintaining his apartheid position.Sometimes I ask my self.Is racism genetic?Note that even in the modern era.The white man still has not condemned slavery.The post apartheid epoch has been filled with the stereotyping of the negro.Where the outward appearance and not the inner talents.Dictate the social status of a self determining black population.The problem with ending apartheid was that there were brilliant military solutions.Which actually drove the Dutch regime out of office.But no political manifesto was ever drafted to govern the new republic.Once blacks had replaced their white masters.To go back to apartheid.Would be like spending millions to go back in time.When the millions could solve a problem in space.That is buying cars and other mechanical transport.Other things being equal.The present south African regime.Has inherited considerable wealth.In the form of gold gems.Vast mineral deposits and an industrial apparatus second to none.Which meant that it’s new president Mandela would have to sue for peace.In order to convert a fairy tale empire.Into a tangible black asset.It must be noted.That the hierarchy of apartheid genuinely believed that they were helping and developing black people.With this odd belief.Whole tribes were drafted into domestics.While other tribes were condemned to subterranean mining.Which establishes the new policy.That only blacks know what is good for blacks.Peter Carlos Hinds.Rightful king of Ashanty.Barbados.

  • Ojiyovwi

    I am surprised to find yet again, white people who must limit their involvement in African affairs to trade and cultural exchanges in sports and games should be afforded space in our media for their poorly informed opinions. These are the same people who would want to hang Pa Mugabe for wanting his Zimbabweans to benefit from their own sweat in their own land. These are the same people who erect high walls against us after stealing our resources to line their streets and, banks and institutions. I will quote Pa Mugabe they call ‘go hang’ with their opinions. We have our own opinions and we know how to nurture the rights and morals of our own people. We would trade with the white man fairly and mutually but they must desist from telling us what to do and how to do it.

  • Ojiyovwi

    PS, uncle Toms died many years ago even as we continue to have rogues amongst us who will plunder and run into the grateful arms of the Whiteman in Europe and Americas.