Nigeria News 2 -- OUTCRY Magazine Press Report Feb. 25, 1999

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President Clinton and the US. States Dept. Responses to Nigeria's Election

Interview by V.Yinka Vidal

US. Dept. of States Responses

On Thursday February 25, 1999, a day before the eve of the Nigeria's presidential election, OUTCRY Magazine interviews the Whitehouse and the US States Department about the Nigeria's election. According to the US. States Dept. spokes person, "We the United States look forward to a spirited presidential campaign between General Olusegun Obasanjo and Olu Falae and hope that the presidential election will be conducted with the same transparency as other elections conducted so far."

The spokesperson for the department of states explains further that a number of international delegations will be going to Nigeria (some are already in place) including former President Jimmie Carter, former Senator Nancy Kassenbaum, and former military chief of staff General Colin Powell. This delegation includes Congressional representatives of Ed Royce from California and Donald Payne from New Jersey.

During the interview, the spokes person indicates that the US government will be looking at the agenda of the Nigeria's new President and a States visit can be arranged to US. later down the line. US. therefore emphasizes its support for Nigeria's peaceful transition to a civilian democratic government from the military rule.

Whitehouse Responses

On interviewing the spokes person for the Whitehouse, he indicates that President Clinton has been  closely involved with the Nigeria elections and speaks to General Abubakar the successor of the ruthless General Abacha from time to time. General Abudulsalam Abubakar visited the Whitehouse in September 23, 1998  where the process of Nigeria's democratization was discussed. President Clinton discussed how the Unites States and the international community could assist Nigeria in ensuring an open and transparent transition process and elections. The President and General Abubakar discussed cooperation in fighting narcotics, organized crime, and US technical assistance to improve civil aviation security and safety. President Clinton praised the General's efforts and dedication to a democratic government for Nigeria. US strongly supports Nigeria's transition to civilian democratic government, and has since lifted many sanctions on Nigeria -- including that of the visa restrictions.

President Clinton comments on the elections that, the success of the Nigeria election is a major step forward although it is by no means perfect, but all Nigerians should support the democratization of Nigeria. Commenting on Nigeria's election on January 11, President Clinton said, "I congratulate the people of Nigeria for the strong turnout and orderly conduct of the January 9th elections for State governors and assemblies, Nigeria should be proud of its achievements to date in conducting transparent and inclusive elections that are building the foundation for a democratic, civilian government. I am pleased that the United States is providing $5 million to support this effort.

These elections represent a critical step in Nigeria's transformation. Since June, General Abubakar, his government and the people of Nigeria have engaged in a sustained and serious effort to rectify the abuses of the past: political prisoners have been freed, onerous restrictions on labor unions have been lifted, the empty positions on Nigeria's Supreme Court have been filled, and a transparent "Budget of Realism" has been announced by the government. I and the people of the United States look forward to continuing to work with Nigeria to ensure that these political and economic reform efforts continue. And I hope that some day soon, Nigeria will be able to resume its place as a democratic leader in Africa."

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