Obama, ECOWAS urge credible polls in Nigeria
UNITED States President, Mr. Barack Obama, yesterday issued a special message to Nigerians regarding the general elections due to begin on Saturday. He called for concerted efforts from all concerned to make for a peaceful and credible election.
In a related development, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has stressed the need for a peaceful polls, devoid of violence. But the sub-regional body, however, called on Nigeria’s electoral management body, the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) to ensure that all political parties were given treatment in the conduct of the polls.
Obama, in the message where he directly addressed Nigerians, called on the people to be proud of their struggle for the country’s independence from colonial rule, the struggle against military dictatorship and to see the need in turning the nation’s diversity into a source of strength.
While enjoining all Nigerians to peacefully cast their vote and reject the prodding of those who may want to ignite violence, Obama said: “When elections are free and fair, it is the responsibility of all citizens to help keep the peace, no matter who wins.”
Full text of Obama’s missive to Nigerians is reproduced below: “Hello. Today, I want to speak directly to you—the people of Nigeria.
Nigeria is a great nation and you can be proud of the progress you’ve made. Together, you won your independence, emerged from military rule, and strengthened democratic institutions. You’ve strived to overcome division and to turn Nigeria’s diversity into a source of strength. You’ve worked hard to improve the lives of your families and to build the largest economy in Africa.
‘‘Now you have a historic opportunity to help write the next chapter of Nigeria’s progress—by voting in the upcoming elections. For elections to be credible, they must be free, fair and peaceful.
All Nigerians must be able to cast their votes without intimidation or fear.
So I call on all leaders and candidates to make it clear to their supporters that violence has no place in democratic elections—and that they will not incite, support or engage in any kind of violence—before, during, or after the votes are counted. I call on all Nigerians to peacefully express your views and to reject the voices of those who call for violence. And when elections are free and fair, it is the responsibility of all citizens to help keep the peace, no matter who wins.
Successful elections and democratic progress will help Nigeria meet the urgent challenges you face today. Boko Haram—a brutal terrorist group that kills innocent men, women and children—must be stopped.
Hundreds of kidnapped children deserve to be returned to their families. Nigerians who have been forced to flee deserve to return to their homes. Boko Haram wants to destroy Nigeria and all that you have worked to build. By casting your ballot, you can help secure your nation’s progress.
‘‘Keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done”. Today, I urge all Nigerians—from all religions, all ethnic groups, and all regions—to come together and keep Nigeria one. And in this task of advancing the security, prosperity, and human rights of all Nigerians, you will continue to have a friend and partner in the United States of America.”
The Chairman of the Authority of Heads of State of ECOWAS and Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama, who gave the admonitions in a statement after holding a discussion with Jonathan at the Presidential Wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, yesterday described the forthcoming elections in Nigeria as a significant signpost of the maturity of democratic process in the continent.
Mahama described the forthcoming election as a critical election for Nigeria and it will be one more indication for the world that Nigeria is a democratic country and ruled by tenets of good governance and rule of law. And so, we want to wish you all the best.
He was expected to meet with the leadership of INEC yesterday to look at the state of preparedness, saying ECOWAS believed that following the postponement of the election, from the 14th of February to the 28 of March has given the INEC much more time to be able to meet all its processes and be in readiness to ensure that voters are not disenfranchised and that the results of the elections are accepted.
His words: “We expect that there will be no post-election violence and that all the parties involved in the election would accept the results of the election in good faith when INEC has announced the results of the elections.”