The United States has urged the nation’s political leadership and aspirants to elective offices, to refrain from inflammatory rhetoric and supporting acts of intimidation ahead of the general elections barely a month away.
This was as it called on political parties and the Nigerian government to ensure that all registered voters are able to freely participate in the upcoming polls in a peaceful and transparent manner.
These were contained in the opening remarks of Ambassador of the United States to Nigeria, James Entwistle, at a workshop on ‘Community Reporting for Building of Democratic Values in the Run-up to the 2015 General Election,’ for journalists in Kaduna on Tuesday.
He noted that the elections present a golden opportunity for the country to demonstrate its commitment to democratic values and institutions.
“The United States strongly supports a free, transparent, credible, inclusive, and non violent electoral process. We continue to call upon all Nigerians to refrain from advocating, fomenting, or condoning violence before, during, or after the elections,” he said.
“Nigeria’s friends and allies around the world also are deeply invested in helping to ensure that the 2015 elections are free, fair, peaceful, and credible. Throughout the electoral process, international audiences also will rely on you (reporters) for timely, accurate, and insightful reporting that will reflect whether those goals are being met,” the envoy added.
Entwistle emphasised that good journalism is important to the electoral process and elections which protects the rights of all Nigerians to use the ballot box to reflect the views and concerns of their communities.
The process, he added, helps to create a stable and democratic government, regardless of which candidate wins.
“Professional media are 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.”
He added that the work of journalists carries a tremendous amount of responsibility, and the shape and outcome of the electoral process depend in very great measure on the good work they do.
Meanwhile, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has condemned last week’s terror attack on the offices of French magazine Charlie Hebdo, which resulted in murder of eight journalists. .
ECOWAS, in a statement by the President of the Commission, Ambassador Desire Ouedraogo said the unacceptable act reminds the international community of the need to continue, with great resolve, all the efforts to combat extremism and terrorism in all its forms.
“ECOWAS acknowledges France’s commitment on this subject and would like to reiterate its full support and encouragement in this legitimate campaign to uphold and promote fundamental freedoms,” it read.