Abuja - The French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Laurent Fabius, has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to defend Nigeria and Africa’s image by conducting credible elections in 2015.
Fabius gave the advice when he and the German Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Frank Seinmeier, led a delegation to a courtesy visit on the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega, in Abuja on Monday.
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Fabius said the delegation visited the commission because of INEC’s responsibility to conduct credible elections by 2015.
He said, “We congratulate your institution for the way you handled general elections in 2011 and more recently the current elections.
“Now that new elections are coming next year, the challenge is tremendous. You have great responsibility towards Nigeria. The image of Nigeria is at stake and the image of Africa as well.
“We have no doubt that this election will be free, fair and transparent.
“European Union will contribute to it, financially and will also dispatch EU observation mission.”
Fabius said the delegation was interested in knowing INEC’s preparation to face the security challenges because of the current situation, particularly the northern part of Nigeria.
“We are here to tell you that we have great confidence in what you are going and what you will do,” he said.
In his address, the German Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Frank Seinmeier, urged the Federal Government to increase its efforts on ending insurgency ahead of the 2015 elections.
He said, “You know that the elections you are preparing for are taking place under difficult conditions, fighting two enemies at a time.
“First of all, it was even until last week we were commenting on your effort and success fighting Ebola.
“The second enemy we were talking about this morning during breakfast meeting with different religious organisations is against the Boko Haram and its terrorist groups.
“Therefore we know that the fight against Boko Haram is not yet enough successful as over 200 girls are still kidnapped and not yet released.”
Fabius wished the commission success in the 2015 general elections even as the country continued its fight against Boko Haram and security situation in the North.
The minister said that the visit was to underline the importance of Nigeria to EU, saying Nigeria mattered not only beyond trans-borders, Africa but also in Europe.
Responding, Jega said the commission was working closely with all key stakeholders to address challenges that had to be ended before the elections.
He said, “One of the challenges is security and how it could affect the conduct of the elections. From our interaction, we are working with security agencies.
“We know that these challenges are there; our hope and prayer is that before the 2015 general elections, tremendous success would have been attained to ensure that election are peaceful and credible throughout Nigeria.
“We, as electoral body, are adequately prepared to deploy but we need to work closely with security agencies.”
Jega said the commission was taking its responsibilities to contribute towards deepening the democracy of Nigeria with all seriousness that it deserved and promised to deliver credible elections in 2015.
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