The outgoing British High Commissioner in Nigeria, Catriona Laing, described the 2023 Presidential and National Assembly elections as fascinating and offered future assuredness for democratic governance in the country.
The polls, which were conducted on Saturday, February 25, 2023, had the candidate of the All Progressive Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, as the winner.
The Independent National Electoral Commission’s chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, had in the early hours of Wednesday, March 1, declared All Progressives Congress’ Tinubu as the winner of the election to beat Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party and the Labour Party’s Peter Obi, who came second and third respectively in the keenly contested poll.
Tinubu, a former Lagos State governor, was declared the winner of Saturday’s election with 8.8 million votes and the required number of ballots across two-thirds of Nigeria’s states.
The two major defeated candidates in Nigeria’s election on Thursday challenged Tinubu’s victory, with one rival appealing to courts and the other calling the results “a rape of democracy”.
However, the British envoy made the declaration at the Senate wing of the National Assembly on Tuesday while fielding questions from journalists after a courtesy call on the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, said despite contestation on the process of the election by some political actors; it was fascinating and portends bright future for the country.
She said, “I made very good friends. I love Nigerian music a lot. The culture here is so rich secondly the politics in Nigeria is so fascinating.
“I was here till the last election and I finished with this election and I’m impressed with Nigeria’s democratic journey.
“Yes, a bit of setback, but overall, I see this as positive and Nigeria should be proud but with a remarkable difference when I came in 2019.”
She added, “Nigeria is the biggest democracy in Africa. The world watches your progress to democracy.
“Though there were some disappointments in the last election, overall, every Nigerian should be proud because since 1999 Nigeria has been on the right track as far as participatory democracy is concerned.”
“The election here is very different and fascinating as you are moving to a three-party system or maybe even four. I think Nigerians as well should realise that their votes count”, she added.
Aside from the election, the British envoy also saluted Nigerians for being resilient at all times of difficulties.
She stated, “There have been some tough times. We had COVID-19, and insecurity has got a lot more since I was here. Nigerian people are incredibly resilient. I remain very optimistic about Nigeria’s future. So it’s been a very wonderful tour and very sad to be going.”
Earlier at the courtesy visit, then Senate President, Lawan, in his remarks commended the British envoy on her positive disposition to the country.
He tasked her with help in strengthening bilateral relations between Nigeria and Britain.
“Nigeria and Britain have come a long way through very cordial and diplomatic relations over the years, the tradition we believe, high-rated diplomats like you, can help to foster and strengthen,” he said.
He wished her all the best in her future endeavours.