The United States has advised Nigeria against postponing the general elections scheduled for next month.
The US Secretary of State, Mr. John Kerry, gave the advice after he met the candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party, President Goodluck Jonathan and All Progressives Congress Maj. Gen. Muhamadu Buhari (retd.) in Lagos on Sunday.
Kerry said that the US would deny entry visa to any Nigerian politician responsible for fomenting violence during the February elections.
He urged the Federal Government not to postpone the elections as being canvassed by the National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.).
The secretary of state said, “Given the stakes, it’s absolutely critical that these elections are conducted peacefully.”
Kerry was in Nigeria to urge the political class to respect the outcome of the February 14 presidential election.
He explained that Washington was concerned that post-election violence could undermine the stability of Nigeria and hamper the fight against terrorism.
It will be recalled that three days of rioting trailed the 2011 general elections which saw Buhari losing to Jonathan.
Kerry said, “Nobody gains by violence, nobody gains by turning a political disagreement into a killing spree … The proof will be in the actions that are taken in the course of the election and afterwards.
, “Anyone who participates in, plans or calls for violence against the civilian population must be held accountable, including by ineligibility for an American visa. Perpetrators of such violence would not be welcome in the US.”
In an apparent response to Dasuki’s call, Kerry said, “It is imperative that Nigeria holds its elections on time.”
Dasuki had in London last week called for the postponement of the elections to allow the Independent National Electoral Commission distribute more Permanent Voter Cards to Nigerians.
An unconfirmed source said Kerry also spoke with the INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, on the telephone.
He was said to have urged Jega to ensure that the polls, which would determine how the US relates to Nigeria in future, were credible.
Kerry also said that the US remained committed to helping Nigeria fight Boko Haram.