The United States Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle, has challenged the Nigerian politicians to speak out against the violent activities of the Boko Haram sect and other violent campaigns in the country.
He also asked if the continuous insurgency in the North-east region would not amount to disenfranchisement of the electorate during the general election and its implications on the stability of democracy in the country.
Entwistle also reiterated the US government’s supportfor Nigeria in the forthcoming general election.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the five-day workshop organised by the US embassy and Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) with the theme: ‘Professional Journalism and Electoral Process’, the envoy said: “As many of you know, I have been asking politicians throughout Nigeria to take a public pledge against violence.
“This campaign will be much more powerful if it comes from Nigerians instead of outside observer like me.
I have been asking the media and Nigerians to do the same-make it clear that if a candidate wants your vote or wants to appear on your radio or television station or in your newspaper pages, he or she must take the pledge that they will not advocate, foment or condone violence before, during or after the elections.
“Please continue to spread the word about this non-violence pledge because Nigerians must demand such commitment from those who are seeking their approval to govern them.”
The ambassador also queried the implications of elections not taking place in states with more violent activities, asking whether the inability of the electorate to perform their electoral responsibilities would not amount to disenfranchisement of the voters and whether insurgents’ activities would not negatively impact on the stability of democracy in Nigeria.
On his country support for the 2015 general election, Entwistle said: “The US stands with Nigeria on your journey towards perfecting your democracy. I want to make it clear that we do so as your friends and partners. You have many friends and partners who want Nigeria to succeed, and the US stands at the front of that line.”
According to the US ambassador who spoke on the essence of the workshop, the workshop is one of the ways to ensure the sustenance of good journalism and enhance the ethics of journalism.
“Good journalism is essential to an election process that protects the rights of all Nigerians to use the ballot box to reflect the views and concerns of their communities-a process that helps produce a stable and democratic government, regardless of which candidate wins. A professional media is among the most powerful tools available to support a free, credible, inclusive, and peaceful electoral process in which democratic principles are adhered to by all parties, candidates and institutions.
“That kind of electoral process advances personal freedom, encourages genuine political competition, promotes accountability among leaders, resolves conflict, advances rule of law and builds efficient and effective public institutions,” he explained.