Free and fair election may prompt Obama's historic visit to Nigeria

America's President, Barak Obama

Nigeria may have started reaping the benefits of organising a free and fair election as the country has been selected to host President Barack Obama during his Africa trip in a few months.

Obama’s administration had made conducting a free and fair poll a condition for a presidential visit.

Sources said administration officials are discussing with their Nigerian counterparts on the details of the visit, including security, accommodation and places of historical interest Obama will visit while in the country.

White House sources said the administration is impressed with the outcome of the polls and believes a presidential visit will further deepen Nigeria’s democratic credentials and push other countries in the sub-region towards a democratic path. “The outcome of the polls makes it easier for the administration to make the case to other nations on the need to allow their people to freely choose their leaders,” administration officials stated.

“The President believes this reverses a downward slide of democracy in the country,” officials told Sunday Independent.

The White House is not alone is applauding the election. The U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Johnnie Carson, who represented Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, as an election observer concluded the election marks a new direction for Nigeria.

“This reverses a downward democratic trajectory and provides the country a solid foundation for strengthening its electoral procedures and democratic institutions in the years to come. The Nigerian people have shown to the world their resilience and will to have their voices heard. These elections were a real opportunity to choose their leaders,” he said.

Nigeria/America flagpins

Despite what he called “some technical imperfections,” Carson said these elections are a substantial improvement over Nigeria’s seriously flawed 2007 vote. “Following the deplorable post-election violence of the previous week, we are heartened that many Nigerian voters went to the polls to vote in an environment largely free of violence. We remain concerned about allegations of fraud and ballot box snatching in various jurisdictions, and we strongly urge Nigerian authorities to investigate and take corrective actions on all of these allegations,” he stated.

The administration said it welcomes President Goodluck Jonathan’s promise of a judicial commission of inquiry which will investigate post-electoral violence.

The administration said it is watching other developments, especially the re-run in parts of Imo State and urged electoral authorities not to allow the outcome of that election to mar the success of the previous polls.