The European Union (EU) has pleaded with the Nigerian government to intensify its efforts in putting an end to Boko Haram insurgency.
The call was made on Monday in Abuja, by Dr Frank Seinmeier, German Minister of Foreign Affairs when he and French Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Laurent Fabius led a European Union (EU) delegation to the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega’s office.
Seinmeier pleaded with the Federal Government to end Boko Haram insurgency before the 2015 elections, The Nation reports.
“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 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,” he said.
Speaking also, Fabius called on INEC to defend Nigeria’s and Africa’s image by conducting credible elections in 2015, explaining that the visit to the commission is because of INEC’s responsibility to conduct credible elections by 2015.
“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 (EU) will contribute to it, financially and will also dispatch EU observation mission,” Fabius said.
The French minister of foreign affairs further hinted that the delegation was interested in finding out INEC’s preparation to face the security challenges because of the current insurgency in the northern part of Nigeria.
He said they were in Nigeria to let INEC know that they have great confidence in what the commission is doing and what is yet to do.
Fabius, who wished INEC success in conducting the 2015 general elections despite the country’s continued fight against insurgency and dwindling security situation. He also revealed that the visit was to underline the importance of Nigeria to EU, stating that Nigeria mattered not only beyond trans-borders, Africa but also in Europe.
Responding to the envoys comments, Prof. Jega reiterated the commission’s commitment in conducting credible polls in 2015. He revealed that the commission was working closely with all key stakeholders in order to curb any challenges that need to be ended before the elections.
“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 INEC chairman stated that 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.
“Obviously that does not underestimate the challenges. There are enormous challenges; it is going to be difficult but we believe it will not be impossible. The kind of support, encouragement and assistance that we have received from all stakeholders domestic and international partners have not only inspired us but reinforced our commitment to ensure that we deliver free fair credible elections,” he said.
Jega, however, commended the EU for their support to the commission, pointing out that the visit underscored the kind of importance EU attached to the democracy of Nigeria.
“The support has enabled us to conduct free, fair and credible election in 2011 and since then, we have been receiving timely and important support as we prepare for 2015 general elections,” he said.
It would be recalled that on October 10, 2014, the European Union, EU, has condemned the death sentence handed to 12 Nigerian soldiers by the General Court Martial in Nigeria for alleged mutiny.