The U.S has expressed its support for INEC’s decision to shift the dates of the general elections due to the delay in the delivery of sensitive electoral materials.

The Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Mr Johnnie Carson, declared the U.S Government’s support on Wednesday at the Wilson Centre in Washington D.C., the Voice of America (VOA) reported.

Carson was reported as saying that “the United States agreed with the delay and praised INEC’s chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, for bringing integrity and competence to the position.

“However, as we have seen this past weekend, one man alone cannot overcome significant systemic and logistical challenges.

“Nor can one person alone turn around and transform a political culture in which stolen elections have become the norm for decades,” Carson said at the event entitled “U.S. Policy Toward Africa 2011: Implications of Current Events.”

Carson noted that the problems encountered by INEC created an “opportunity for political manipulation and some politicians ( in previous elections) have acted in ways to make proper electoral oversight all the more difficult.”

“Nigeria has not had credible national elections since 1993 and overcoming this negative legacy remains a significant challenge,” he added.

The top American diplomat warned against election violence, saying that it “is unacceptable and it casts a dark shadow over the entire electoral process.”

He, however, admitted that electoral violence in the build up to 2011 elections had been lower compared to 2007.

Carson expressed the U.S. government’s hope that the 2011 elections would bear no resemblance to those of 2007, which drew charges of fraud and corruption in the victory of then President Umar Musa Yar’Adua.

He said that in spite of the crises in Cote d’ Ivoire, North Africa, the Middle East and Japan, the importance of the upcoming Nigerian elections must not be forgotten.