The European Union (EU), the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States of America (US) have demanded the conduct of free, fair and credible governorship election in Ekiti State.
They noted that the Ekiti State election will be a pointer to what to expect in the 2019 general elections expected to be conducted in February and March.
Their position was conveyed at a joint press conference addressed in Ado-Ekiti by the EU Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Ketil Kalsen; the UK High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Paul Arkwright and the US Consul General in Lagos, Mr. John Bray.
Kelsen explained that the international community was interested in the consolidation of democracy in Nigeria, noting that “the Ekiti poll is a litmus test for the general elections.”
He said the international community would want parties to avoid hate speech while security forces should not intimidate the electorate.
Kelsen expressed satisfaction with the preparations made by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the Ekiti governorship election.
He said: “It is important that voters vote freely for their preferred candidates. Any state election in Nigeria is of interest to us because many states in Nigeria are bigger than many countries in Europe.
“We want peace to be maintained in Ekiti and we are also maintaining our neutrality in this election. We ask questions about the number of security officers deployed for this election.
“Let me emphasise on the importance of free, fair and credible election because Ekiti will show the way for February/March elections.
“This is the best way to secure development, stability and unity in Nigeria. What is good for Nigeria is good for EU and what is good for Ekiti is good for Nigeria.”
UK High Commissioner Arkwright explained that he had held meetings with the two major candidates in the election and they had given him their commitment to a peaceful poll.
Arkwright said: “I have seen Dr (Kayode) Fayemi of APC and Prof. Eleka (Olusola) of PDP. This afternoon, we met the police, particularly the DIG. It has been a busy day. We believe that this election should go on peacefully.
“We want to plead that everybody that is eligible should vote, civil society organisations are here in large numbers.
“This is a process of deepening democracy in Nigeria because in 2015, we witnessed the transfer of power from one party to another for the first time.”
US envoy Bray said: “What we want is free, fair and credible election. Over time, what I have seen is much greater preparation by INEC and CSOs.
“No election anywhere in the world is perfect, because the institutions that run election improve over the time.
“I questioned the number of security forces sent here, but I was assured that they are here to protect the people.
“I met the candidates and they said they are for free and fair election. I hope everything will go the way expected by the US, the UK and the EU.