Mr. Stuart Symington, United States Ambassador to Nigeria, on Tuesday called on Nigerians to give themselves credible elections in 2019 by avoiding acrimony and standing against electoral malpractices.
He made the call at the Peace and Security Network Quarterly Roundtable with the theme, “Towards 2019 Elections in Nigeria: Securitization of the Electoral Process and the Prevention of Violence’.’
The ambassador said that because there would be no election anywhere in the world in February, 2019, the attention of the entire globe would be on Nigeria and its citizens to provide credible polls.
He further said only one thing will make the difference in 2019 and that is the ties that bind the people of Nigeria.
Symington explained, were ties of friendship, “of trust not of hate, but of love, not of desperation but of purpose; the ties growing ever stronger’’.
He said that during the life of a nation, there were moments such ties would be tested around elections, adding that it was now for the security forces and the government to resolve to work together.
“I stand for an idea of network, which is a network of Nigerians that will make elections succeed. It has to be a net, it has to be people and organisations linked to each other with strong bonds and purpose.
“Then, that net has actually got to work in every sphere and corner; it has to have people that are citizens woven together that represent government, electoral commissions, security services, federal, state, local officials.
“Secondly, it is more important in the world than Nigeria – the reason is that some people talk about the potential population of Nigeria which is already exploding.
“Now the question will be how to finance the energy and the opportunity of this extraordinary youthful population for the good of its entire people, its neighbours and the whole world,’’ he said.
The envoy advised security forces to act in a way that was true to their mandate and true to securing the country and not being partisan.
He went further to encourage Nigerians to focus on doing good things together, saying something good that could bring about a new Nigeria because the world was watching and hopeful for violent-free elections.
On his part, Country Director, Mercy Corps, Mr Darius Radcliffe, said that the corps was working on integrating all its programming to address electoral violence.
Radcliffe said that the corps had partnered Nigeria toward achieving such goals.
He assured that the group would keep partnering at all levels for a better and greater Nigeria ahead of 2019 elections, and called for a collaborative effort of all citizens.
Mr Adeolu Adewumi, National Coordinator Peace and Security Network, said that the event was organised to brainstorm on the securitisation of the electoral process and the prevention of violence.
Adewumi said that the aim was also to know the strategic plans of the security agents ahead of 2019 elections since there were still insecurity in some regions of the country.
“We all are all witnesses to the fact that there is a resurgence of the insurgency in the North-East towards the 2015 elections; security agencies declared that they could not guarantee security during the election so it needed to be postponed.
“The question now is, are there signs that the 2019 elections will also be postponed? These are the questions we need to ask due to the recent attacks.”