Ahead of the general elections, the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington, has called on Nigerians to work together and ensure that their votes count.
Mr Symington stated this in a broadcast which was shared on his Twitter handle on Tuesday 5 February.
He said, “It is absolutely important for the citizens of Nigeria to personally take part in the elections beginning right now by making sure they know what their rights are.
“It is very important that you work together to ensure your votes count”.
Symington further stated that the US expects a free, credible, transparent and peaceful exercise.
He asked Nigerians to use the elections as an opportunity to express their civil right.
“As we get ready for your elections, one of the most important things is that there is 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.
He explained that the elections are only one part of the democratic process but what is important is the final days of the elections.
“Elections are only one part of the democratic process. The words and the actions that happen in these final days and all the work of government afterwards, are as important to democracy as the elections themselves”.
He advised politicians and those working for the government to remember that it is their individual responsibility to act consistently with the laws.
He called on Nigerians to always have three things in mind while casting their votes for the candidates of their choice.
• Know your rights
• Vote and exercise them
• Act consistent with the law
Mr Symington wished Nigerians a successful election adding that he was optimistic that this year’s election would be better than previous ones.
Here's the text of the full speech.
#NigeriaDecides2019: We look forward to witnessing an electoral process that is transparent, credible, free, fair, and peaceful. Election that reflects the true will of the Nigerian people pic.twitter.com/3jYZG0VGUS
— U.S. Mission Nigeria (@USEmbassyAbuja) February 5, 2019
“Hi, Stuart Symington, am the United States ambassador to Nigeria. And I want to talk to you for a few minutes about your upcoming elections. These elections are 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 this year 2019 are elections that are free, fair, credible, transparent and above all peaceful. In this process I know one it is absolutely important for the citizens of Nigeria to personally take part beginning right now by making sure 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 and 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 official, no security forces, no electoral officials, no politicians should seek to influence you in a way that is not consistent with Nigerian laws. Elections are only one part of the democratic process.
“The words and the actions that happened in these final days of the campaign and then all the work of government after are as important to democracy as the elections themselves.
So there it is in a nutshell: #1, Know your rights, #2, Vote and exercise them, #3 If you work for the government or you work for a party make sure you understand that it is your individual responsibility that you act consistent with the law.
“Then finally remember that elections are only one part of a democracy and on this level-laying field it’s incredibly important to think there has to be a path forward for every Nigeria, whatever your faith, language, wherever you come from. Finding your path forward together is the heart of democracy. It’s the heart of freedom. It’s the hope of free enterprise and free people and it’s the future of Nigeria.
Goodluck and I hope your elections are even better than they were in 2015”.