Looking ahead to the 2023 general elections, the United States Government says it will impose visa restrictions on anyone who promotes violence in Nigeria.
US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Michael Gonzales, handed out the warning at an international conference in Washington, the News Agency of Nigeria has reported.
It would be recalled that last year, the US announced similar restrictions aimed at “those who undermine the peaceful resolution of the crisis” between armed Anglophone groups and the army.
The conference, which was held at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington DC, virtually brought together Nigerian and US policy communities to discuss issues around the 2023 general elections.
Gonzales said the US government “will continue to use our messaging as well as other diplomatic channels at our disposal, including visa restrictions, where warranted, to dissuade those who may be tempted to use violence to undermine Nigeria’s democratic process”.
According to him, the US government remains committed to working with Nigeria to uphold its conventions towards ensuring a peaceful power transition in 2023.
Other panellists highlighted insecurity risks and the need to manage the 2023 elections properly, in addition to other points raised at the conference.
Among these points were the issue of faltering political developments as they concerned elitism and Nigeria’s progress, it was observed that since 1999, the Nigerian elite had found a way to maintain a modicum of stability for elections and “eventually share the dividends of the election outcomes”.
Director of the Centre for Democracy and Development, Idayat Hassan, noted that ‘political parties during the Anambra governorship election cycle could not campaign due to insecurity’, and that worse scenarios could happen in 2023.
Hassan asserted that “the zoning of the presidency to the South, particularly the South-East, will give the region a sense of belonging in Nigeria”. The theme of the conference which held at Johns Hopkins University, in the US, was “United States Policy and Nigeria’s National Decisions in the 2023 Elections”.