Nigeria’s 2011 election: a momentous opportunity to deepen democratic practice and uphold Commonwealth values
The Commonwealth Secretary-General, Kamalesh Sharma, has called on the leaders and people of Nigeria to work together towards a peaceful and credible election which will enjoy the full confidence of all Nigerians and the wider Commonwealth community.
Mr Sharma made this call following the formal release of election dates in January 2011 by the Independent National Electoral Commission of Nigeria (INEC). According to INEC’s timetable, National Assembly Elections are due on 15 January, Presidential Elections on 22 January and Gubernatorial Elections on 29 January.
“Nigeria is a valued member of the Commonwealth. It is the Commonwealth's largest member state in Africa and plays a leading role in a variety of ways in West Africa and beyond. It is therefore in the interest not only of the Nigerian people themselves but also of Africa, the Commonwealth and the international community as a whole that democracy thrives in Nigeria,” Mr Sharma added.
He said INEC would be challenged to conduct elections to the highest expectations without the support of all sections of society. All stakeholders -- political parties, civil society, the media and the electorate -- had a role to play in entrenching democratic culture and practice in order to achieve this goal.
“The Commonwealth,” Mr Sharma reiterated, “is committed to assisting Nigeria towards achieving the best ever election in its political history.” To this end, he urged all political parties to work together to ensure that the upcoming elections live up to the Commonwealth's stated democratic values and principles, to which Nigeria strongly subscribes.
Mr Sharma wished INEC, political parties and all other stakeholders all success in their preparations for the elections.
The Commonwealth assists countries with international trade, debt, finance, and economic and legal advice.