Nigeria: UK Not Backing Any Candidate, Says No Difference in Manifestoes of Top Four Contenders
“They have all published their manifestoes. What is quite striking is how similar they are. I did not see huge policy differences among the big four. They have all told us how important it is to take those difficult policy decisions. But are there differences? In terms of policies, I did not see much differences.”
The United Kingdom High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, says there is no striking difference between the manifestoes of Nigeria’s four leading presidential candidates, especially in the area of policy.
She also said her country’s government is not backing any of the 18 presidential candidates and is ready to work with any of them that emerge president in the 25 February election.
Ms Laing stated this during an interview on Channels TV on Tuesday.
Although there are 18 political parties in the race, the 2023 presidential election is shaping to be a four-horse race between the candidates of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, former vice president, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), former Anambra State Governor, Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) and Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).
The four leading candidates have released their manifestoes.
Mr Tinubu has the “Renewed Hope 23“, while Mr Atiku released a manifesto titled “My Covenant with Nigeria“. For Mr Obi, he is counting on his “Our Pact with Nigeria” while Mr Kwanwaso released “My Pledges To You”.
Ms Laing said observers are buoyed by the pledge of the candidates to take some hard decisions on the economy because there is a nexus between economy and security.
“They have all published their manifestoes. What is quite striking is how similar they are. I did not see huge policy differences among the big four. They have all told us how important it is to take those difficult policy decisions. But are there differences? In terms of policies, I did not see much differences.
“We have engaged with the big four and I have met with some of the smaller parties as well. We know them well and like Channels TV, we are not backing any candidate. We can work with anybody who wins this election because that will be the choice of the people. Whoever comes in will have a lot of challenges, on security and the economy.
“We urge all the candidates to take early action on the economy–when the economy functions, the security environment will also improve. The security we see is related to joblessness and lack of alternative livelihood,” she said.
Threat of sanctions, visa ban
The envoy stated that the most important thing is that voters must accept the outcome of the election, noting that the UK and its allies are ready to deploy necessary sanctions.
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She refused to disclose Nigerians that are under visa ban or watch because that would be a data breach.
“When people do their research and ask which candidate best represents their interest and who will do more for them in future Nigeria, and they make their choice and they accept the result, that is the most important thing.
“One thing we need to worry about Nigeria is the flip side of a very close election where there is a lot of engagement and there is a lot at stake. There is no predetermined outcome, that is the beauty of democracy.
“Where the UK is aware of the intent to subvert the democratic process, we are prepared to take action against those prepared who engage in or incite electoral violence or indeed other anti-democratic behaviour. We have two tools in our toolbox. We have a visa ban. We have refused visas to travel to the UK for people undermining the democratic process or for more serious behaviour, we have sanctions. We are watching closely, this is not targeted at any political party or individual. It could be applied to anyone,” Ms Laing said.