=By Funmi Falobi=
In order to attain credible elections in Nigeria, the United Kingdom shall be spending the sum of 47.4m pounds towards the success of the 2019 general elections.
This was disclosed by Laure Beaufils, British Deputy High Commissioner, Lagos, while speaking at an interactive session with journalists to mark the 2018 International Day of Democracy.
At the event tagged: “Deepening Democracy in Nigeria,” held at the British Deputy High Commission in Lagos, the envoy stated that the UK is a long-term partner and friend of Nigeria in all spheres, including politics, adding that the Prime Minister, Theresa May’s visit to Nigeria is a testament that the two countries have a cordial relationship.
Beaufils noted that the British High Commission as part of the partnership to ensure a free, fair and credible general elections will spend 47.4 million pounds on Deepening Democracy in Nigeria Programme Phase 2 (DDiN2), adding that the programme funded under the Department for International Development (DFID), arm of the Commission, is geared towards supporting democratic governance around the world with focus on Nigeria.
According to Beaufils ,the UK “has no preference for any political party or candidate,” stressing that the nation is making efforts to provide advocacy and campaigns to support citizens-led groups to curb electoral violence.
Similarly, Damilare Babalola, Programme Coordinator, Deepening Democracy in Nigeria (DDIN2), said that the British Deputy High Commission is working assiduously with relevant stakeholders to strengthen democracy thereby resulting to credible elections results within the next six months.
He said that the DFID-UK funded programme has been in existence for the past four years to ensure successful 2019 elections in Nigeria, saying that it is working with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), relevant security agencies, among other groups, to ensure voter-participation, participatory governance so as to sustain electoral process and intensify electoral process, as well as improve voter-participation in the elections.
Babalola said that the programme is an on-going process that supports civil society organisations, provides periodic intervention with public and works with relevant stakeholders to ensure an all-inclusive political process in the country. The project also reaches to the grassroots to ensure issue-based politics, peaceful and non-violent political process come 2019.
While noting that vote-buying among politicians is a “threat to peaceful elections if not contained,” he however admitted that “that there is so little that INEC or UK could do about that but the intervention of other stakeholders would help ensure that thuggery and violence are reduced to the barest minimum.”