United States Secretary of State John Kerry arrived Nigeria yesterday to meet with President Goodluck Jonathan and retired General Muhammadu Buhari, urging them to respect the outcome of the Feb. 14 presidential election. The meetings came amid concerns that post-poll violence could undermine the fight against Boko Haram militants. Minutes after his arrival at the Presidential Wing of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA), Ikeja, Kerry headed for the State House in Marina and held separate closed door meetings with President Goodluck Jonathan and General Mohamadu Buhari. Kerry’s visit highlights the stakes for Washington in what is expected to be Nigeria’s closest election since its 1999 transition from military rule.
Though the meetings were not open to newsmen, Kerry was said to have emphasized to both candidates the importance of having a non-violent, and transparent election.
He urged in particular that the loser accepts the results and discourage supporters from responding in any violent fashion, a US official told Reuters. His talks also focused on the Boko Haram threat amid US media reports of distrust and lagging cooperation between the Nigerian and US militaries.
“It is especially critical that all political parties abide by the Abuja Accord which commits each to non-violence before, during, and after the election. I made it absolutely clear that the May 29th handover date is sacrosanct”, he said.
Jonathan said he also told Kerry that the Federal Government would provide all resources required by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure that the forthcoming election goes smoothly.
Meanwhile, the United States will deny entry to anyone responsible for stoking violence during the election, Kerry said yesterday. “Given the stakes it’s absolutely critical that these elections are conducted peacefully,” he told reporters after meeting with Jonathan and Buhari. “It is imperative that Nigeria holds its elections on time,” he added, apparently referring to comments from Nigeria’s national security adviser last week that the Feb. 14 poll should be delayed.
Present at the meeting with Buhari were AP
PROCEED TO SEE MORE TWEETS ON PAGE 2