Obama, Cameron, others praise Buhari, Jonathan, Jega

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GLOBAL leaders and organisations have congratulated Nigerians, especially the President-elect, Maj.Gen. Muhammadu Buhari(retd.), President Goodluck Jonathan and the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, for the successful conduct of Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly polls.

They said in separate statements on Wednesday that the orderly conduct of Nigerians during the elections and the acceptance of defeat by Jonathan were remarkable.

The leaders and organisations are the United States President Barack Obama; the United Kingdom Prime Minister, David Cameron; French President, Francois Hollande; South African President Jacob Zuma; United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the European Union, the ECOWAS Election Observation Mission, the African Union and the Commonwealth.

Obama, in a statement by the White House, said that INEC and Jega deserved a special recognition, both nationally and internationally.

Commending Jonathan for conceding defeat and Buhari for emerging victorious, he urged them to ensure a peaceful transition.

Obama said, “The last few days have shown the world the strength of Nigeria’s commitment to democratic principles. By turning out in large numbers and sometimes waiting all day to cast their votes, Nigerians came together to decide the future of their country peacefully.

“I commend President Jonathan and the President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, for their public commitments to non-violence throughout the campaign.”

Obama noted that Jonathan placed Nigeria’s interests first by conceding the election and congratulating the President-elect on his victory.

He added, “I urge President-elect Buhari and President Jonathan to repeat their calls to their supporters to continue to respect the election outcomes, focus on unifying the country, and together lead Nigeria through a peaceful transition.”

Concerning the efforts of Jega in keeping the poll free, fair and credible, Obama said, “Nigeria’s INEC and its Chairman, Attahiru Jega, deserve special recognition for what independent international observers have deemed a largely peaceful and orderly vote.

“I commend INEC for its extensive efforts to increase the credibility and transparency of the electoral process.”

However, the US president urged Jega and INEC to improve its performance ahead of April 11 elections.

Obama said, “Looking ahead to the governorship elections on April 11, it is imperative that national attention turn to ensuring isolated logistical challenges are overcome and peace is protected, even in the most hotly contested races.

“On behalf of the American people, I extend congratulations to the people of Nigeria and to President-elect Buhari and look forward to continuing to work with the newly-elected government on our many shared priorities.”

Also, Cameron in a statement on www.gov.uk said, ‘‘I send my warmest congratulations to General Buhari on being elected as Nigeria’s next President.

“This election has been a credit to the Nigerian people and a truly historic moment for Nigerian democracy.

“The UK remains a steadfast partner for Nigeria as it realises its potential as Africa’s economic powerhouse and works to tackle terrorism in the region.”

President Hollande on his part welcomed the commitment of Nigerians and the quality of work of INEC towards the success of the polls.

A statement from the French Embassy in Abuja on Wednesday, said that Hollande would speak with Buhari on Thursday(today), adding that he intended to establish with Buhari the trustful relations France had with Jonathan.

The President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, congratulated Buhari on his emergence as the President-elect and Jonathan for his leadership and commitment to “consolidating democracy, peace and stability in Nigeria.”

To Zuma, Jonathan’s action was indicative of his readiness and commitment to ensuring a smooth transfer of power with a view to ensuring that Nigeria did not experience violence.

The UN Secretary-General, Ki-moon, congratulated Buhari and called on all Nigerians to accept the outcome of the elections.

A statement by the UN said, “The Secretary-General talked to President Jonathan and Maj. Gen. Buhari.

“He congratulated President-elect Buhari and commended President Jonathan for his leadership throughout the electoral process and his statesmanship in upholding the democratic process.

“The Secretary-General believes the successful conduct of these polls is a testament to the maturity of Nigeria’s democracy.”

Ban hoped that the same democratic spirit will prevail in the conduct of the governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections on April 11.

Also, the Head of ECOWAS Election Observation Mission, former Ghanaian President John Kuffuor , and the African Union and the Commonwealth congratulated Nigeria’s National Peace Committee for its work.

They called on Nigerians to carry through the entire electoral process the maturity and discipline displayed during the presidential and National Assembly elections.

At a meeting in Abuja, Kuffuor and the AU Observer Mission Chief, former Liberian leader, Prof. Amos Sawyer, and head of the Commonwealth poll observers, Bakili Muluzi, advised the Abdulsalami Abubakar-led committee to continue to build trust and confidence for peaceful coexistence during the post-election period.

They said, “Elections are about governance and our prayer is that Nigerian political parties, their candidates and teeming supporters will accept the results of the elections, with the winner showing magnanimity and the runner-up showing cooperation.”

The EU High Representative and Vice-President, Federica Mogherini, in a statement thanked Jonathan for his contribution to consolidating Nigeria’s democracy over the past five years.

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