Nigerians are feeling nervous. Their elections are up in another two days, and the focus is on maintaining peace in the nation. It is important for Africa, as a whole, to show the world that they can have free, fair and peaceful elections.
Former American president Bill Clinton is visiting Nigeria to meet the main political contenders. He is said to be meeting with the candidate for the All Progressive Congress, Muhammadu Buhari, and his main rival from the People’s Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar.
The meeting has been facilitated by the Kofi Annan Foundation and is scheduled to take place on the 15th of February, the day before the elections.
Clinton is highly respected in Nigeria. The Kofi Annan Foundation is committed to ensuring peaceful and free elections, and Clinton is representing them, urging all candidates to commit to their peace pledge from the last year.
“As Nigeria heads towards presidential elections, every effort must be made to ensure that they take place in a peaceful atmosphere” Alan Doss, President of the Kofi Annan Foundation, said.
“President Bill Clinton is well-known and respected in Nigeria and we are pleased that he agreed to make the trip in order to personally urge all the candidates and their parties to re-commit to the peace pledge they adopted last December,” Doss added.
Everyone is a little anxious about violence breaking out during or after the elections, especially as the campaigning has been a hard fight. There have been threats of violence; some lies although parties will always deny this and a whole lot of political mudslinging.
El-Rufai, a key ally of current president Buhair and the Kaduna State Governor, has threatened to send anyone, who comes to Nigeria and tells them what to do, in body bags back home. He says that Nigeria is independent, democratic and decent, and anyone accusing them of anything suspicious, will pay.
“We are waiting for the person who will come and intervene. They will go back in body bags because nobody will come to Nigeria and tell us how to run our country,” said El-Rufai.
“We have got that independence and we are trying to run our country as decently as possible,” he said.
Such threats have not been taken lightly. Clinton will likely have security and protection during his visit, though as a much loved and respected former politician, it is not thought that he is in danger.
Buhari and Atiku signed an agreement last year to say they were committed to peaceful and democratic elections. The trick is to keep their supporters peaceful as well, something hard to do when both parties sling rhetoric out into the other.
Corruption in Nigeria is rife. Nigeria is seen as an African leader, a country with a strong economy, but also, littered with corrupt officials and politicians. If Nigeria wants to be taken seriously, the country needs to ensure free, fair, non-violent and democratic elections.