Nigerians are set to vote Saturday in presidential and parliamentary elections that are seen as the most wide-open since Africa’s most populous nation switched from military rule to democracy in 1999.
And U.S. President Joe Biden declared that America wants a peaceful and fair election in the western African nation.
Biden helped to broker a peace deal that political parties and candidates in Nigeria’s presidential election signed this week.
By signing the accord, the parties and candidates committed to accepting the election results that the independent National Electoral Commission will announce.
They’ve also agreed to a peaceful transfer of power.
“Elections are a fundamental part of a functioning democracy, and all Nigerians deserve this chance to choose their future freely and fairly,” Biden stated.
“While the United States does not support any single candidate or party, we strongly support a peaceful and transparent process that reflects the will of the people of Nigeria.”
Biden also encouraged Nigerians to use their freedom of speech to make their voices heard, including young people who may be going to the ballot box for the first time.
Eighteen candidates are vying to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari, including former Vice President Atiku Abubakar (Peoples Democratic Party), 76, the main opposition candidate; Peter Obi (Labour Party), 61, whom media reports suggest is popular among young voters; and Bola Tinubu, 70, the ruling party (All Progressives Congress) candidate.
More than 93 million people have registered to vote in the contest, and about 176,600 polling stations have been set up across the country.
Some of these stations are in places where people have been moved because of fighting between Islamists and federal troops.
“The United States stands with the Nigerian people as they chart a path toward a more democratic, prosperous, and secure future,” Biden asserted.
“I appreciate President Buhari’s firm commitment that the will of the people will be respected. And in the coming days, I encourage voters to remain peaceful and patient as their ballots are tallied and urge the political parties and candidates to live up to their pledge.”