WHY NIGERIA MUST GET POLLS RIGHT, BY S'AFRICAN ENVOY
ALTHOUGH Britain and the United States (U.S.) have expressed concern over the spate of political violence that has rocked some states across the country, South Africa has expressed optimism that Nigeria would hold a successful general election next month.
South Africa's High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Kingsley Mamabolo, who stated this on Monday in an interview with The Guardian, stressed that Nigeria's success at the polls would not only be a step in the right direction but a great relief for the African continent, which is waiting for the country to realise its full potentials and take its rightful place in the comity of nations.
The envoy said: 'If Nigeria realises its full potentials, it will be beneficial to Africa as a whole because of its sheer size and endowment. Today on the African continent, there are three countries that are yet to realise their great potentials. They are Nigeria, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. If you get Nigeria and Sudan to work very well, you are lifting the whole African continent.'
The envoy stressed that Africa has to work together to alleviate the sufferings of its people 'because as African countries, there is a lot we can achieve if we work together.'
However, Mamabolo commended the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over its preparations for the polls thus far.
He stated: 'I think everybody has agreed that there is going to be a vast improvement in this election from the ones we have had in the past. We (South Africa) and other countries in the international community who are observing proceedings from outside should actually be congratulating INEC and Prof. Attahiru Jega, for doing a good job.
'Even though the time is very short, everybody agrees that it may not be 100 per cent perfect. Everybody agrees also tremendously that INEC as an institution has done a great deal of work to ensure that there is very little room for those who are trying to rig elections to operate. I think the international community will join me in saying that indeed, we are looking forward to a great election.'
Asked to hazard a guess if President Goodluck Jonathan's participation in the election would not affect its credibility, Mamabolo said: 'President Goodluck Jonathan and other contestants have the right to participate in the election in Nigeria since the Constitution of the country allows them to do so. Since it is the choice of Nigerians to vote for him during the primaries to enable him take part in the main elections, I do not see anything wrong with that. And I am confident his participation will not affect the credibility of the election.'
He said his country remained grateful for the support it received from Nigerian institutions in the build-up to hosting the first FIFA World Cup in Africa.
Mamabolo added: 'In the course of vying for the hosting right, Nigeria had to pull out of the contest. That was definitely some support we got from you, and for that singular act, which we can never forget. We are very grateful for the support we received from various Nigerian institutions.
'There has always been this collaboration and talking to each other as brothers over time, not only in sports, but across other fields of human endeavours. We should continue to work together and develop ourselves.'
Speaking on the revenue his country derives from tourism, Mamabolo said: 'A number of things count in our favour, principal amongst them being the weather. That is why you see a lot of Europeans troop in there, except in the month of June when we have extreme cold.
'Also South Africa has developed a coaching system, good network of roads, beaches and infrastructure that support tourism, make life pleasant for the tourists and deliver service. Since everyone wants to go to a place where they can have good weather, appreciate the scenic endowments and wildlife as well as get service for the money they spend, tourists keep coming to South Africa.
'So I would stress here that the success that what South Africa is enjoying in the area of tourism is as a result of the combination of a number of factors that have been carefully put in place over time.'