Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The United States (US), has replied the Federal government following an allegation that it was undermining the credibility of the forthcoming elections.
The US stated that when the chips are down, each person will be held accountable for their actions during the polls, first by their own conscience, under God, and in accord with the laws of Nigeria and in the court of Nigerian public opinion.
The US response came after the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, expressed concern over the elections during a closed-door meeting with the Senior Director for Africa and Special Assistant to the United States President, Cyril Sartor, on the sidelines of the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The US’ response is also a sequel to the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Council’s statement on Monday that it was deeply concerned over the expression of the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington, and other western diplomats over the elections, which it said, were off-key.
But Symington, in a post on the Facebook page of the Embassy of the US, said: “The United States Embassy in Nigeria wishes to reiterate unequivocally that we are not taking sides in Nigeria’s election. We do not support any party or candidate. We support a level playing field and the democratic process. That is the bedrock principle of our government’s advocacy on democratic elections.”
The envoy further said in the final run-up to the February 16 election, fake news and rumours were operating in overdrive.
Symington added: “But it must be repeated: we are not taking sides.
“This is Nigeria’s election and the citizens of Nigeria will decide who will lead their nation. It is important for the future of every Nigerian and it is important that every Nigerian contributes to making it a democratic, peaceful, free and fair process. This will ensure that all Nigerians see the results as credible, and they accept them. This will empower Nigeria’s democracy going forward, as did the elections of 2015.
“Every Nigerian citizen is vital to the success of this election. Each person is responsible for his or her own actions and words, and all must be held accountable: first by their own conscience, then under God, then in accord with the laws of Nigeria and in the court of Nigerian public opinion, and also in the eyes of the world.”
Symington also noted that the US is Nigeria’s long-term and enduring friend.
He said the US provided more than $1 billion in assistance and help save more than two million lives in Nigerians each year through its health and humanitarian assistance.
According to the US Ambassador, “this will not change. We are Nigeria’s good partner, and this will continue after this democratic election – no matter who wins.
“This election is Nigeria’s, but it is also important for Nigeria’s neighbours and for the world. Nigeria has long played a great leadership role in the region and beyond as a force for democratic stability. The credible electoral results of 2015 empowered Nigeria to play that role. The United States looks forward to a similar result this week.
“We support the democratic process and the work of the Independent National Electoral Commission in managing the elections. We call on every Nigerian citizen, official, a party member, and the security forces to peacefully support Nigeria’s democratic process in accordance with Nigerian law.
“The United States welcomed the signing of peace accords by the candidates for president and other offices. Now is the time to grow that peace by ensuring all get the message and put it into action so that both the voting and the aftermath are peaceful and fully respect the democratic process. Peace benefits all Nigerians and peace is the responsibility of every citizen as you work together to ensure your elections are free, fair, transparent, and credible,” Symington concluded.
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