APC campaign takes swipe at US ambassador, Western diplomats — Nigerian Pilot News
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APC campaign takes swipe at US ambassador, Western diplomats

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The APC Presidential campaign organisation has taken a swipe at the United States’ Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington, and other western nations over comments and repeated calls for free, fair and peaceful elections in Nigeria.

A statement by the Director of Strategic Communication of the Campaign Organisation, Festus Keyamo, said it was “deeply concerned about many of the expressions” of Mr Symington and other “Western diplomats.”

“The continued warnings about ‘flawed elections’ is capable of casting an unwarranted cloud over the process,” Keyamo said.

He also raised concern over many of the expressions of the United States’ Ambassador to Nigeria, Ambassador W. Stuart Symington and other Western Diplomats which have been directed towards Nigeria’s upcoming elections noting that “Whilst we laud and whole-heartedly welcome their interests in the elections, many of these expressions have been notably off- key. The continued warnings about ‘flawed elections’ is capable of casting an unwarranted cloud over the process. Instead of encouraging our country toward credible elections, such statements undermine public confidence. It would appear that these envoys seem to have discredited the election before it has even taken place” he said.

He noted that statement credited to the ambassador were worrisome. “For instance, the Premium News reported that Ambassador W. Stuart Symington threatened to “hold to account” anyone whose speech, no matter the motivation of that speech, engendered hatred. We all agree that any speech willfully intended to trigger violence is condemnable. However, in condemning other forms of political speech, the American envoy overstepped his ambassadorial brief”.

The APC presidential spokesperson noted that such “strong political speeches are not unlawful in the United States, but Ambassador Symington is seeking to penalize such speeches by Nigerians. He seeks to shrink our ambit of free speech so that we may behave in accordance with their vision of well-behaved Africans, rather than in consonance with our vision of our own democracy, no matter how tumultuous and dramatic we may be. It would appear that his position seeks to prohibit forms of expression integral to our political discourse. These forms of expression have time and time again been adjudged to be constitutionally-protected speeches by the United States Supreme Court” Keyamo said.

he noted that Nigerians will define Nigeria’s democracy. “We shall hold fair and just elections, not because of scolding by diplomats, but because we have sufficient intelligence and morality to do what is right for ourselves. If Ambassador Symington has familiarized himself with Nigeria’s history from 1999 till date, he would have realized that those in the main opposition are being haunted by their past: they think President Buhari would behave exactly like they did all these years when they consistently rigged elections and denied Nigerians the right to choose their leaders

If Ambassador Symington truly intends to be impartial, his statements should acknowledge that both Government and Opposition (particularly in States where the opposition have Governors in place) must respect the process and refrain from rigging. We expect him to counsel both governing party and the Opposition from any form of electoral malpractice. After all, it is not only Governments at the center that rig elections. Elections can also be rigged in opposition-controlled areas.

It is not too late for Ambassador Symington to repair the damage of his uninformed statements. He needs to speak as an impartial envoy instead of a person who appears to have prejudged the quality of the process and the outcome. Until he attains that level of informed impartiality, whatever good he seeks is better achieved by his silence than by tendentious utterances”. Keyamo said.

End

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