The UK Department for International Development (DFID) has committed 35 million pounds to a five-year programme aimed at deepening democracy in Nigeria, a top official has said.
Mr Mark Lowcock, Permanent Secretary at the UK’s DFID, announced this on Tuesday night in Abuja during a reception to launch the programme.
The programme, tagged “DFID’s Deepening Democracy in Nigeria 2 (DDiN2)’’, hopes to make political, electoral and democratic institutions in Nigeria more “efficient, effective and responsive”.
Lowcock said: “Nigeria matters. For the 180 million Nigerians living in it, it matters for Africa and it matters for the UK.
“This global focus on Nigeria represents an important moment for the country.
“As Africa’s biggest democracy, countries look to Nigeria to lead the continent in many ways. Delivering credible elections in 2015 is a key pillar of that leadership.”
The UK official said supporting the 2015 elections in Nigeria was a vital part of DFID’s global commitment to support freer and fairer elections across the globe.
He explained that the programme was designed to work across Nigeria’s electoral cycle to strengthen presidential, national and state elections, and mitigate the risks of violence.
He added that DDiN2 was working in partnership with different people and political organisations, including the National Assembly, INEC, civil society groups and international partners.
“It is through all of us working together that we can improve the probability of credible and safe elections in 2015,” he said.
On the forthcoming elections in Ekiti and Osun, Lowcock reminded INEC of the need to demonstrate successful electoral management in partnership with political parties and security agencies.
He reiterated UK’s concern about levels of insecurity and the potential for violence during elections in Nigeria.
“INEC has a very important role to play to ensure these elections are credible, fair and safe.
“Let me take this opportunity to underline our continuing support to INEC through the 2015 elections and beyond,” he said. (NAN)