The United States says it will impose visa sanctions on people who try to undermine Nigeria’s democratic process in 2023.
Rolf Olson, the political counselor at the US Embassy in Nigeria, made this known on Thursday while speaking at the Hubert Humphrey Fellowship alumni association seminar.
Olson said sanctions have been placed on persons who undermined the nation’s election before and would be repeated in the next election.
“When we say ‘all’ Nigerians, we mean all: politicians, candidates, students, leaders of religious, traditional, community, youth and business organisations and entities – everyone has a role to play in this effort,” he said.
Even a small number of troublemakers can cause substantial havoc to an election. It takes a comprehensive effort to try to eliminate the use of violence and inflammatory rhetoric.
“Individuals seeking to undermine the democratic process, including through violence, may be found ineligible for visas to the United States.
“We have imposed visa restrictions in the past against those responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic process, and remain fully willing to do so again in the context of the upcoming elections.”
Olson said the US does not support any candidate or party in the incoming general election.
“It never ceases to amaze me how often we see comments, claims, and assertions from people on social and traditional media about what our supposed objectives are in the elections, which candidate or party we favour, how to interpret certain statements or actions of ours in terms of what it means about our intentions are perceptions,” he said.
“In reality, I think it is quite simple to interpret us, especially when it comes to the elections. We always try to be clear in our messages, so let me be clear here on several important points:
“The United States does not support any individual candidate or party in this election cycle (or for that matter, in any other upcoming election).
Our interest is in supporting credible and transparent elections that reflect the will of Nigerian voters, in a process that is conducted peacefully.”
In 2020, the US said it imposed visa restriction on some individuals for their actions during the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections.