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 Obama, ECOWAS seek peaceful polls in Nigeria

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eddyvic
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PostSubject: Obama, ECOWAS seek peaceful polls in Nigeria   2015-03-24, 04:34

United States President Barack
Obama and the the Economic
Community of West African States
have stressed that only fair and
transparent elections will
guarantee a true democratic
process in Nigeria.
Obama made his comment via a
video posted on Monday on the
White House official website while
the ECOWAS Chairman and
Ghananian President, John Mahama,
spoke in Abuja.
The US President, who also called
for the safe rescue of the more than
200 kidnapped Chibok girls by Boko
Haram, reminded Nigerians that
“successful elections and
democratic progress” would help
Nigeria meet the challenges it
currently faces.
He therefore urged Nigerians to
peacefully express their views on
election days and “reject the voices
of those who call for violence.”
According to him, the elections
presented to Nigerians, the
opportunity to unite in saying no
to violence and extremism and
instead show their support for a
more peaceful, secure and
prosperous future.
“I call on all Nigerians to peacefully
express your views and to reject
the voices of those who call for
violence. And when elections are
free and fair, it is the responsibility
of all citizens to help keep the
peace, no matter who wins,”
Obama added.
The US President made it clear in
the message that it was the duty of
all voters to safeguard the
democratic process by performing
their civic responsibility peacefully.
He said, “Today, I want to speak
directly to you—the people of
Nigeria. Successful elections and
democratic progress will help
Nigeria meet the urgent challenges
you face today.
“Boko Haram—a brutal terrorist
group that kills innocent men,
women and children—must be
stopped. Hundreds of kidnapped
children deserve to be returned to
their families.
“Nigerians who have been forced
to flee deserve to return to their
homes. Boko Haram wants to
destroy Nigeria and all that you
have worked to build. By casting
your ballot, you can help secure
your nation’s progress.”
He also urged all Nigerians to put
their ethnic and religious
backgrounds behind ahead of the
polls, saying that the task ahead
required unity.
“I’m told that there is a saying in
your country: ‘to keep Nigeria one
is a task that must be done.’ Today,
I urge all Nigerians—from all
religions, all ethnic groups, and all
regions—to come together and
keep Nigeria one. And in this task of
advancing the security, prosperity,
and human rights of all Nigerians,
you will continue to have a friend
and partner in the USA,” he added.
The US President also had a
message to Nigerian leaders,
especially the two leading
candidates – President Goodluck
Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic
Party and Maj. Gen. Muhammadu
Buhari of the All Progressives
Congress: They must caution their
supporters against violence
during and after the March 28 polls.
“I call on all leaders and candidates
to make it clear to their supporters
that violence has no place in
democratic elections—and that
they will not incite, support or
engage in any kind of violence—
before, during, or after the votes
are counted,” he advised.
In Abuja, Mahama and the
President of the ECOWAS
Commission, Desire-Kadre
Ouedraogo met seperately with
Jonathan and the All Progressives
Congress presidential candidate,
Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, at
the Presidential Wing of the
Nnamdi Azikiwe International
Airport.
The ECOWAS chairman told
journalists after the meetings that
they stressed to the two candidates
they need for free and fair elections
in Nigeria.
Mahama, who also heads ECOWAS
electoral observer mission to
Nigeria said that the sub-regional
body had been actively involved in
ensuring peaceful and transparent
elections in the five countries
going through elections in West
Africa this year.
He said the observer mission had
been monitoring the electoral
process in the lead up to the
elections not just before the polls
but from a longer period.
Mahama added, “We have received
several monitoring reports and we
are working together with the
electoral commissions of the
countries and the authorities of
those countries.
“We have tried to ensure that
obstacles to free and fair elections
are removed to ensure that
elections are free and fair. People
would accept the results of those
elections.
“As chair of the authorities of Heads
of State of ECOWAS, I have extended
my solidarity to the Nigerian
people through my brother
President Jonathan, to see that the
whole of ECOWAS, not only ECOWAS,
but the international community is
in solidarity with Nigeria to have a
very transparent election so that
the democratic process in Nigeria
will be better entrenched.
“This is a critical election for Nigeria
and it will be one more indication
for the world that Nigeria is a
democratic country and is ruled by
tenets of good governance and rule
of law. And so, we want to wish you
all the best.”
He disclosed that the delegation
would also meet with the
leadership of the Independent
National Electoral Commission to
look at the state of preparedness
for the elections.
He expressed the belief that the
postponement had given the
electoral body more time to be
able to meet all its processes and
be in readiness to ensure that
voters were not disenfranchised
and that the results of the elections
were accepted.
The Ghanaian President also
expressed the belief that there
would be no post-election violence
after the release of the results.
“We expect that there will be no
post-election violence and that all
the parties involved in the
elections would accept the results
in good faith when INEC has
announced the results of the
elections.
“As you know, Nigeria is a very
important member of ECOWAS. The
largest economy, the largest nation
in the ECOWAS region and so
Nigeria’s safety and security is the
safety of and security of the whole
of ECOWAS region and so I stand on
behalf of all the Presidents of
ECOWAS and wish that all Nigerians
will come out and express their
votes and their votes would count
towards electing who becomes the
next leader of this country.”
Mahama also told journalists after
meeting with Buhari that the
international community was
interested in the outcome of the
elections because of the strategic
position Nigeria occupies on the
African continent.
He said, “I arrived here this
(Monday) morning as the ECOWAS
chairman at the behest of all the
Heads of a States of ECOWAS to pay a
solidarity visit to Nigeria to express
our solidarity with the people of
Nigeria in the elections you are
going to hold on March 28.
“The whole of West Africa and
indeed, the whole of the
international community is
watching your country because
these elections are going to be
another step at consolidating and
enhancing democracy in Nigeria.
“I began this(Monday) morning
with a meeting with President
Jonathan and we discussed all
issues concerning the intending
election and I had firm assurances
that everything is set to go and that
on the Match 28 election will come
up.
“We expect the elections to be
free, fair and transparent and
ECOWAS is going to do everything
possible to work with the political
stakeholders and INEC to make sure
that the process is credible and
acceptable to the people of Nigeria.
“ I feel assured that all the political
leaders are ready for a peaceful,
free and fair election.
“Of course, there are a few issues
that he(Buhari) has brought up
which I will refer appropriately to
our monitoring group and I hope
that the discussions that will take
place in the next few days will
address some the issues that have
been raised.”
Mahama said he received
assurances from both Jonathan and
the INEC Chairman, Attahiru Jega,
that all was now set for the
elections to go ahead on March 28
as scheduled.
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