The United States consulate in Nigeria has finally responded to claims by former President Goodluck Jonathan that they influenced the outcome of the 2015 general election.
Former President Jonathan had, in his recent book, titled, ‘My Transition Hours’ accused former United States President, Barack Obama of meddling in the 2015 Presidential election, thereby ensuring it favoured incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari.
Jonathan in the book insisted that Obama’s support for Buhari was so glaring that he released a video shortly before the election, asking Nigerians to “open a new chapter.”
Former president Jonathan recalled how Obama, in a video message directly released to Nigerians, urged them to vote for the opposition in the 2015 polls.
According to Jonathan, Obama released the video on March 23, 2015 which was less than a week to the 2015 presidential election.
He recalled that the video came after Obama sent his Secretary of State, John Kerry, to Nigeria “to protest the rescheduling of the election.”
Jonathan in the book stated, “On March 23, 2015, President Obama himself took the unusual step of releasing a video message directly to Nigerians all but telling them how to vote.
“In that video, Obama urged Nigerians to open the ‘next chapter’ by their votes.
“Those who understood subliminal language deciphered that he was prodding the electorate to vote for the opposition to form a new government.
“The message was so condescending, it was as if Nigerians did not know what to do and needed an Obama to direct them,” the book read in part.
However, in a live chat on Facebook which was monitored by our correspondent, the Public Affairs Officer at the US Consulate General Lagos, Mr Russell Brooks, described Jonathan’s claims as a “mischaracterisation.”
Brooks said, “It was mischaracterised in the book about what President Obama or his administration did in Nigeria. The mischaracterisation here refers to not comprehending why we felt it was important for Nigeria to have a peaceful, free and fair election in 2015.
And thereby people may not understand why we placed so much importance of having a peaceful, free and fair and transparent election in 2019.
“In the past Nigeria’s elections had been beset by violence, there have been questions about the fairness of those elections. And we certainly believe that Nigeria can do better. In 2015, Nigeria did do better.
“There may have been some difficulties as they often times occur in elections whether here in Nigeria or in the United States. But Nigeria did do better and we believe Nigeria will continue to make progress.”
When asked if the US would be supporting any presidential candidate ahead of the 2019 election, Brooks said the US would continue to remain neutral.
He said the only thing the US would be supporting “is a credible and fair process.”
Brooks added, “We are not favouring or supporting any candidate. It is up to the Nigerian people to decide. Our candidate is the process. The process should be free and fair, it should be a non-violent process. I am not talking of any plus or minus of any candidate, we are not favouring any candidate. We are not trying to influence the success of any candidate. That is not our role.”
He said the US would support the Independent National Electoral Commission, the media and Civil Society Organisations especially in the area of capacity building,
Brooks said, “We are helping Nigeria to make that progress through our support to INEC, to civil society here in Nigeria; through our assistance to the press and enabling them to also play a positive role in the coverage of the elections.
“All these show how important we believe it is for Nigeria to have an election process that can be credible and stand against any election anywhere in the world. We believe Nigeria can accomplish that.”
Jonathan also did not spare Kerry, whom he said arrived in Nigeria, on Obama’s instructions, to protest the postponement of the 2015 election on January 25, 2015.
The former President said the top US diplomat was nonchalant in his attitude towards his government despite all efforts to make him understand that the decision to postpone the election was in the overall interest of Nigeria.
He stated, “How can the US Secretary of State know what is more important for Nigeria than Nigeria’s own government? How could they have expected us to conduct elections when Boko Haram controlled part of the North-East and were killing and maiming Nigerians?
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