2 Messages From U.S. Ambassador W. Stuart Symington

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. In the final run-up to the Feb. 16 vote, fake news and rumors are operating in overdrive. 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 contribute 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.

The United States is Nigeria’s long-term and enduring friend.   We provide more than $1 billion in assistance and help save more than 2 million lives of Nigerians each year through our health and humanitarian assistance.   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 neighbors 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, 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.

TRANSCRIPT: Ambassador W. Stuart Symington on 2019 Nigeria Elections

Hi. I’m Stuart Symington. I’m the United States Ambassador to Nigeria and I want to talk to you for a few minutes about your upcoming elections. These elections are a remarkable opportunity for all Nigerians to come together and for every citizen to express their will. What the United States hopes to see in your elections in this year of 2019 are elections that are free, fair, credible, transparent, and above all peaceful.

In this process I know one thing; it is absolutely important for the citizens of Nigeria to personally take part beginning right now by making sure that you know what your rights are. Then on Election Day, you won’t have an effect unless you vote. It’s terribly important that you work together to make sure that your votes are counted. You know, as we get ready for your elections, one of the most important things is that there be a level-playing field. Meaning that no officials, no security forces, no electoral officials, no politicians seek to influence you in a way that is not consistent with Nigerian law.

Elections are only one part of the democratic process. The words and the actions that happen in these final days of the campaign, and then all the work of government after are as important in a democracy as the elections themselves. So there it isn’t a nutshell. Number one, Know your rights. Number two, vote and exercise them. Number three, if you work for the government or if you work for a party, make sure you remember that it is your individual responsibility to act consistent with the laws.

And then finally remember that elections are only one part of democracy and on this level playing field it’s incredibly important to think there has to be a path forward to the future for every Nigeria. Whatever your faith whatever your language whatever the place you come from, finding your path forward together is the heart of democracy. It’s the heart of freedom. It’s the hope for free enterprise and free people and it’s Nigeria’s future. Good luck and I hope your elections are even better than they were in 2015.

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