It is no longer news that the United States of America (USA) has slammed visa ban on some notable Nigerian politicians for undermining electoral process in the aftermath of Kogi and Bayelsa states gubernatorial elections.
Immediately after the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo announced the unfortunate and sad development; the Kogi State governor through the office of secretary of state wrote a protest letter to the US embassy expressing disappointment with the decision.
In the letter, the state government denied any wrong doing for aiding or abetting any actions that might have undermined the successful conduct of election as alleged by the US government.
The state government also chided the US for releasing the damning allegation without fair hearing from the accused party.
While the allegations rage and furore generated is yet to settle, the United Kingdom (UK) issued another threat of visa restrictions and asset forfeiture for election riggers or manipulators in the country.
The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing,said in a statement that the UK greatly values the Nigerian democracy and thus will not condone any violent acts that may undermine the democratic process in the coming elections.
Catriona also stated that “UK as a friend and partner of Nigeria is closely following the lead up to off cycle governorship elections in Edo and Ondo.”
The last year November elections conducted by INEC in Kogi and Bayelsa states is said to have been marred by violence. From time immemorial, Nigeria has a chequered history of elections imperfections.
After the first and second republic were terminated by military regime, the country in 1993 was opportuned to had an acclaimed free and fair elections in which late Moshood Abiola won the election. With the introduction of electronic voting in 2015, the incidence of multiple voting and ballots snatching were minimized.
However, indications have emerged that; the gains recorded in our reformed elections process that ushered into the success of 2015 elections would be eroded. I think the outcome of the last Kogi and Bayelsa elections did not impress both the US and UK, hence the warning.
The desperation of our political class or ruling elites to perpetuate themselves into power against the democratic norms has also angered the international communities. With the Edo and Ondo elections which may likely witness violence unless electorates wishes are respected, the traveling restrictions or bans have come at a right time. Even with no visa ban, Nigeria’s 20 years of democratic journey is supposed to be at par with its contemporaries. Furthermore, the traveling ban should serve as a wakeup call to those who want to undermine the country’s democracy.
Ibrahim Mustapha Pambegua, writes from Kaduna State