By Fortune Abang
The U.S. says it believes in democracy regardless of all its challenges and flaws because of the opportunities it offers to the electorate for wholesome change in a leadership that fails to deliver dividends of the system.
Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S, Embassy in Nigeria Mr David Greene expressed the thought during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
Greene stressed that it is the duty of the Nigerian electorate and the political system to hold elected officials accountable, saying: “This is the magic of the democratic system.
“It is such that you have the opportunity after every few years – in our system it is four years – to throw the guys out if you think they are not delivering democratic dividends.
“One of the statements President Joe Biden made in a couple of contexts is that democracy needs to deliver.
“Democratic systems need to deliver to its citizens that are participants.
“It is up to citizens under democratically elected governments that are not delivering to create change. That is why we believe in democracy. For all its challenges and flaws, it is the best system of elected presentation.”
Responding to a question on whether the U.S. is considering going beyond imposing visa-ban on politicians who undermine the democratic process by exposing them, Greene said, “I am not in the position to judge these things. It is for the Nigerian people to judge.
“The electorate gets the chance every four years to judge the performances of the folks that are in power because that is inherent to any democracy.
“As U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced, we do take it seriously when there are accusations that folks have sought to undermine the democratic process.
“We use the full strength of tools available to us to ensure that there are consequences.
“We announced on a couple of occasions, visa-bans, and ceasing the accord with individuals accused with evidence of interfering in elections and undermining the democratic process.
“Visa records are confidential. We do not publish their numbers or the names, but it is a tool that we use when you send a message. Those people know who they are,” he added.
The envoy explained that the U.S. does not get into hypotheticals but uses available tools to enforce its punitive measures.
He underscored the need for amicable resolution of electoral disputes to guarantee the legality of elections and electoral procedures as well as the sustenance of democratic rule.
Responding to a question on the practice by political actors to manipulate election results and the resultant litigations.
According to him, although disputes often arise from democratic processes, more should be done to amicably resolve election disputes in the aftermath of elections to ensure fairness of the process.
“We know as anyone else that democracy can be messy. Disputes arise and that is inevitable in the system.
“We are always working to improve, and I think that is the case in Nigeria.
“The key when confronted with a post-election dispute is that all sides should avoid violence and use the legal peaceful process.
“Such means have already been identified for the resolution of disputes. It may not be ideal to have an election that is won in a court of law, but it happens in the U.S.
“It happens around the world. It happens in Nigeria. So, one cannot take issues without the phase of it.
“What I do think is that the cause of such a legal process should transpire transparently, according to the constitution that is in place,” he said.
On the issue of violence that black people have been subject to, especially police brutality, the envoy gave an assurance that measures have been put in place to enable citizens to live under principles of democracy.
“Democracy is not a perfect system; we are seeking to approve an absolute measure. What we are trying to do is strive to live up to our aspirations and values as principles.
“The U.S. is a country founded on ideas but has the right to life, the body, and perceived happiness. We are always trying to achieve and pursue a system that allows folks to achieve those aspirations.
“Certainly, racism, police violence holding officials accountable for corruption and their behavior are great concerns in the U.S., and there are concerns that exist in any diverse society or proper democracy.
“They occur in ways the government needs to open debate to improve the situation, breach protocol, try and correct errors or try to improve the situation for everyone.
“In that context, one thing vital is the need for a free independent press, there is no way the society can identify, and address challenges faced other than through open debate with the airing of those challenges”.
He mentioned that sometimes such issues heated public discussions to chart the way forward, therefore the need for an independent press.
“This is why we take the independent press seriously. At the end of the day, we expect our citizens to hold us accountable.
“We have systems where there are challenges and flaws and we expect to be held accountable by the U.S. citizens through all the tools available,” Greened stated. (NAN)
Edited by Emmanuel Yashim