Abuja – The U.S. Government says it will support an election process which protects the rights of Nigerians to use the ballot box to reflect their views and concerns of their communities.
The U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle, stated this at the opening of a four-day workshop for INEC Public Affairs Officers on Monday in Abuja.
“You’re well aware that the U.S. supports a free, credible, inclusive, and peaceful electoral process in which democratic principles are adhered to by all parties, candidates and institutions.
“This process encompasses all stages in the run-up to elections, including preparation of voter rolls, running campaigns, conducting the actual election, and handling any problems immediately afterwards.
“We support an election process that protects the rights of Nigerians to use the ballot box to reflect the views and concerns of their communities — a process that helps to produce a stable, democratic government, regardless of which candidate wins,’’ Entwistle said.
He urged the public affairs officers to help sharpen public knowledge and perceptions about elections, the debate process and provide crucial information on voters’ rights as well as voter registration process.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the workshop’s theme is “The Role of INEC Press Officers: Enhancing Good Governance through Media and Grassroots Outreach.”
Entwistle said the training, which was organised by the U.S. Embassy, was part of the U.S. support to INEC and Nigeria for all upcoming elections, including the national ones in 2015.
He urged the media and Nigerians to embark on a public programmes against election violence.
“Make it clear that if a candidate wants your vote, he or she must take the pledge that they will not advocate, forment or condone violence before, during, or after the elections.
“So, please consider spreading the word about this non-violence pledge, because we must demand better behaviour from those seeking our
approval to govern,’’ the envoy said.
Entwistle, who congratulated INEC and other electoral stakeholders on the success of the Ekiti elections, urged them to replicate that in Osun and in next year’s general elections.
In his address, the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega said the commission had put in place measures to improve on the capacity of its members of staff.
He said this was done as parts of its effort towards delivering credible elections by 2015.
“These efforts at building the capacity of members of staff are informed by the fact that well trained members of staff are most likely to exude confidence and to perform their tasks competently,’’ Jega said.
He said the conference’s theme would resonate with the commission’s leaders as they think on needs to reach out to a majority
of Nigerians who live in the rural areas.(NAN)