Paul Arkwright, the United Kingdom High Commissioner to Nigeria, has told PREMIUM TIMES that his country, or any other Western nation as far as he could tell, is not against a second term run by President Muhammadu Buhari.
There has been speculation that the UK and other Western countries are not in favour of Mr. Buhari remaining in office beyond 2019.
“I am very happy to put that rumour to bed,” Mr. Arkwright told PREMIUM TIMES Thursday afternoon. “The United Kingdom supports a process whereby the people of Nigeria can exercise their democratic right to vote.”
Mr. Buhari has not openly disclosed his reelection plans, but he has repeatedly indicated he might seek a second term.
During a visiting to Abidjan late November, the president told Nigerians in the Ivory Coast capital that some of them are his potential voters.
While touring Kano on a working visit less than two weeks later, the president told a field packed with his admirers that the turnout was a sign that he remained popular and would easily defeat his challengers if the election were held that day.
On January 3, the minister of communication, Adebayo Shittu, after meeting Mr. Buhari, also spoke about setting up a campaign organisation for the president.
During a recent trip to Benu State, the president vaguely told his hosts at Government House, Makurdi, he might be back there to campaign soon.
Mr. Arkwright did not say whether he knew Mr. Buhari would run or not, but made it clear that the UK would not favour him over his opponents and vice versa.
“All of Nigeria should feel that they have a part to play in the democratic process. I encourage people to go out and get their PVCs.
“Who they vote for is a matter for their conscience and not for the United Kingdom government. Whichever candidate is standing, they need to make up their minds and decide who would best suit them.
“And that’s an individual choice. We favour a free, fair, credible and peaceful process and we’re working with INEC to make that happen,” Mr. Arkright said.