Nigeria's Eyes on the Vote

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), November 23, 2008 | Go to article overview

Nigeria's Eyes on the Vote


Byline: Atiku Abubakar, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

As Election Day has come and gone, it's apparent that Nigeria and the United States have something in common when it comes to electoral politics. Nigeria is the most populous nation in Africa and symbolizes the struggles of the entire continent. America sets the democratic standard for the rest of the world. This leaves both our nations with the responsibility of constructing and maintaining a system that ensures voters' choices are made without undue pressure, recorded without malfeasance and reported with veracity.

Unfortunately for the citizens of Nigeria, our imperfect and largely fraudulent system frequently produces false results. So the people of Nigeria and Africa must now rely on the prudence and diplomacy of the next president of the United States to ensure our institutions act transparently to protect democratic rights and freedoms.

Nigerian citizens hungry for progress urge President-elect Obama to adopt policies on Africa that emphasize the rule of law and democratic processes. The prevalence of failed states and dire poverty on our continent are not disconnected from the lack of both. Fair and truthful elections are directly linked with growing economies that better manage natural resources, offer citizens a chance to develop better skills through the improvement of educational institutions, and empower Africa's private sector to advance and compete in the global marketplace. Our imperfect electoral system has sadly allowed for the mismanagement of our rich energy industry. At a time when the world's oil markets require stability and steady handedness, there is corruption and deception by those who oversee our precious resources.

Fostering these principles would allow the president to encourage American businesses to build better relationships in Nigeria. Foreign direct investment is the driving factor for economic growth, but without strong institutions that prevent corruption and protect the private sector, it is unlikely to happen. …

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