By Samuel Ogundipe
The United States authorities have denied a report that has been circulating across Nigeria since the presidential election was concluded two weeks ago.
The report stated that President Barack Obama issued a ‘Certificate of Commendation’ for Prof. Attahiru Jega to reward him for his outstanding performance in conducting the 2015 general elections, with a picture purportedly depicting the award presentation.
A statement issued by the United States Embassy in Abuja noted that Mr. Obama did not at any time issue any award to Mr. Jega.
The statement, which was signed by Mr. Robert Kerr of the U.S. Embassy’s public affairs department, reads thusly:
“President Obama did congratulate INEC and Chairman Jega for successfully conducting the March 28 presidential elections,” however, “a letter of commendation was not present to Jega.”
The diplomat added that the picture being widely circulated in both the Nigerian mainstream media and online was that of Jega actually presenting the U.S. Ambassador, James Entwistle, an award when the top diplomat paid him a courtesy visit at INEC headquarters several months ago.
He said the statement from the White House in respect to the conduct of the elections congratulated Nigerians and other major players in the election, which include INEC, but Washington did not specifically issue any certificate or award to commend Jega.