The third Session of the Good Governance, Transparency and Integrity Working Group of the Nigeria – United States Binational Commission (BNC) was held in Abuja, Nigeria from February 17th -18th, 2014. The Nigerian delegation was led by the Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr. Abdullahi Ahmed Yola. The United States delegation was led by Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Ms. Linda Thomas Greenfield.
The Session was hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and coordinated by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Ambassador (Dr.) Martin 1. Uhomoibhi.
The Federal Republic of Nigeria and the United States of America recognized the importance of peaceful and credible elections to the prosperous and democratic development of a united Nigeria. Both countries agreed that ensuring the credibility of the electoral process would require adequate preparations for activities at all stages of the electoral cycle. Both countries also recognized the importance of continuing a program of electoral reforms as outlined by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
INEC committed to launching robust voter education and voter registration campaigns well in advance of Election Day events. The United States expressed its commitment to assist the INEC, Civil Society, and other stakeholders in conducting free, fair, transparent, and peaceful elections that reflect the will of the people.
Both countries recognized the adverse effects of violence in the electioneering process. Nigeria expressed its determination to prevent thuggery and all forms of violence during the election period. Both countries recognized the relevance of the security services in working with the INEC to safe-guard the election materials; to maintain the safety and security of election officials inclusive of INEC and party agents, election observers, and the electorate, throughout the electioneering process. Nigeria is committed to providing appropriate training to the security services to enhance the awareness of their roles and responsibilities prior to and during Election Day events. The U.S. will support these efforts through various programs.
Both countries recognized and valued the immense contributions by the Legislators, Public and Private sectors, Civil Society Groups and the Media to the development of democratic culture in Nigeria.
Both countries agreed to increase operational collaboration in the investigation and prosecution of individuals and groups involved in money laundering, illicit finance, and related economic crimes. In particular, using anti-money laundering tools to trace, seize, and forfeit the instrumentalities and proceeds of illicit activity, especially corruption. The United States renewed its commitment to provide support in the areas of capacity building, training, and technical assistance.
Both countries affirmed that Nigeria has had some transparent, peaceful, and credible elections both at the Federal and State levels previously. The Government of Nigeria is determined to ensure that the votes of the Nigerian electorates count in the subsequent elections slated for 2014 and 2015 onward. To achieve this, the Government of Nigeria will collaborate with Civil Society Organizations and the Media to educate the electorate and other stakeholders on electoral procedures and reforms, as well as political party discipline and requirements.
The Nigerian and the U.s. Governments intend to follow-up on these commitments and seek further collaboration to address the challenges identified in the GTI Working Group. Both countries agreed that the next session of the Working Group wi ll be hosted by the United States at a date to be mutually agreed.