The British High Commission in Nigeria has restated its commitment to spend 47.4 million pounds on Deepening Democracy in Nigeria Programme Phase 2 (DDiN2). Laura Beaufils, the British Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, gave the assurance in her address at an interactive session organised for journalists by the commission in Lagos on Friday.
Beaufils said the event was part of the commission’s activity to commemorate the 2018 International Day of Democracy, with the theme: “Democracy under strain: solutions for a changing world.”Speaking on UK’s role in deepening democracy in partnership with Nigeria, Beaufils stated that on the 2019 general elections, Britain has no intention to influence outcome of the forthcoming general elections and also do not have preference for any candidate, but to ensure credible elections.
“It is important to stress that the recent visit of the Prime Minister, Theresa May, to Nigeria was not an endorsement of support for the president or any candidate in the election next year.”
She said the first phase of DDiN was implemented in 2011 and that 33 million pounds out of the total amount had been disbursed in the second phase from 2014 to 2020. According to her, DDiN is a funded programme under the Department for International Development arm of the Commission geared toward supporting democratic governance around the world with focus on Nigeria.
Beaufils said: “Democracy is key to development because it is a system whereby people can express their feelings on how they are being governed. Our intervention is to ensure a non-violent election. We speak out when we see threats of non-democratic events that may mar a peaceful election. We are though worried that the campaigns have not been issues-based but personality-based.”
The programme coordinator of Deepening Democracy in Nigeria Programme Phase 2 (DDiN2), Damilare Babalola, said the DDiN2 was a six-year programme with strategic outcome to support growth of responsive electoral and democratic institutions.
“We will ensure the people have the right to vote and be voted for, mobilise women, youths and people living with disabilities to exercise their franchise. We will also give the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) technical support through operational efficiency and capacity building to ensure the conduct of credible elections in 2019.”
Earlier, Dominic Williams, Political Counsellor of the Commission, commended Nigeria for achieving remarkable improvement in the transition of democratic administration from 1999 till date.Williams said: “One of the reasons we are focused on democracy in Nigeria is because it is an important aspect of British value.
“We believe that democracy is a value that we share with Nigeria and other members of the Commonwealth; it is part of the British foreign policy to defend democracy.
“There has been tremendous progress in the Nigeria’s democratic process, particularly the transition of power from incumbent president to an opposition party in 2015.”
He, however, urged the participants to play their roles effectively in the dissemination of factual information during the forthcoming electoral process to build on the success recorded in previous elections.International Day of Democracy is often celebrated on September 15 and globally it provides opportunities to seek answers to economic and political inequalities that affect democracy.