Polls: U.S. Envoy, Kerry, Meets Jonathan, Buhari

The U.S. government has advised Nigerian politicians to work towards ensuring a peaceful and violence-free February general elections.
The U.S. Secretary of State, Mr John Kerry, gave the advice at a news conference yesterday in Lagos at the end of a closed-door meeting he held with President Goodluck Jonathan and Maj.-Gen. Muhammad Buhari (rtd.), the presidential candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC), respectively.
“The U.S. government strongly believes in Nigeria having credible, free and fair elections next month,’’ Kerry said.
He said that the international community and the U.S. government were keenly interested in the conduct of next month’s election.
Kerry said that he was impressed with the outcome of his meeting with the two major presidential contenders in the forthcoming elections.
He, however, said that the U.S. government would not hesitate to deny American visa to any political office-seeker involved in political violence in Nigeria.
“We want to say that any Nigerian who promotes any form of violence during the elections remains ineligible for U.S. visa,’’ Kerry said.
Kerry said that President Obama specifically sent him to meet with the two candidates with a view to having a violence-free election.
On security, the secretary of state also restated his government’s commitment to continue to support Nigeria in the fight against Boko Haram sect.
“The U.S. will continue to work with the Nigerian military in putting an end to the continuous killings of innocent Nigerians and attack on communities.
“The U.S strongly condemns these attacks which have escalated in the last few weeks and it is gradually spreading to neighbouring countries.’’
Kerry also refuted allegation that the U.S. would in future discriminate against Nigerians and other West Africans suspected to have contacted the Ebola Virus Diseases (EVD).
Meanwhile the ruling Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP), has stated its preparedness for the forthcoming elections but kept mum on calls for postponement of the election, especially by one of the most senior officials of the government.
The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, in a statement yesterday stated that leaders and members of the party are working hard in all the nooks and cranny of the country adding that with its record of achievements and array of popular candidates at all levels, the ruling party will win overwhelmingly in not less than 25 states of the federation.
“We wish to restate that the PDP is fully ready for the general elections. We remain the only party enjoying the support of majority of Nigeria’s voting population across board. Our very strong political structures in all the states, a track-record of performance and array of very popular candidates at the national and state levels who Nigerians are eager to vote for guarantee us a sweeping victory at the elections,” he said.
Noting that Mr. Jonathan is the man to beat in the presidential poll, the PDP also assured of victory at the governorship, National Assembly and state assembly elections saying its candidates at those levels also enjoy the support of the majority of the voters in their respective states and constituencies.
The party, therefore, directed its members and supporters to close ranks and continue to work hard to ensure that it maintained its position in the polity.