Nigerians have been urged to uphold the democratic norms of fair play and eschew acts that might truncate the forthcoming elections in the country.
The United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Stuart Symington, stated this, yesterday, at Government House, Uyo, during a courtesy visit on the state governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel.
He said that election is one of the democratic processes that enable citizens to choose their leaders and called on all the candidates from the various political parties to see their aspiration as a call to service not intimidation and rancour.
Mr Symington said that all citizens should be free to choose leaders of their own choice in a free and transparent poll and reminded the political class of the sacrifices of the past leaders to keep the unity of the country as a sovereign state whereby the fundamental rights of the citizens were respected.
The American Envoy said that the world is interested in Nigeria’s political development in view of its key role in Africa being one of the largest countries with abundant economic potential.
He said the global community is conscious of the fact that only the citizens of the country can determine their destiny and not political parties and urged the political gladiators to place the interest of the people above self rather than attempt to compromise the electoral body and the security services to their advantage.
Mr Symington said that every Nigerian should ponder on how to salvage the economic and security challenges and to further polarise the country on regional, religious or ethnic considerations.
Responding, Governor Udom Emmanuel expressed delight at the show of love and concern for Nigeria by United States of America and other international communities.
He said as the election draws near, issues of concern that could threaten the peaceful conduct of the election have begun to rare their heads, emphasising that among the issues is the use of the police by the opposition to intimidate key supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with spurious charges and frame up.
He explained that Nigerians, the South South and Akwa Ibom State in particular, desire credible, free and fair elections, adding that the state, aside from Lagos, has the highest foreign direct investment due to the peaceful ambience and urged the Ambassador to caution the ruling party on noticeable acts of desperation by attempting to compromise security and other agencies of government in acting their script.
The governor said that America has the largest investment in the state in view of the presence of Exxon Mobil and other international oil corporations and expressed the readiness of the people to participate in free and fair polls without any attempt to subvert the will of the people in the choice of their leaders.
Speaking further, he said that the bulk of the country ‘s income is derived from the oil resources and as such, the consciences of the rulers should compel them not to sacrifice justice and fair play on the altar of partisanship but to bequeath the country with legacies that the future generation would be proud of at the mention of their names by the seed they sowed when they had the opportunity to serve, assuring that Akwa Ibom would maintain its pride of place as the most peaceful state in the country.
The United States Ambassador was received on arrival by the state deputy governor, Mr Moses Ekpo; secretary to the state government, Dr Emmanuel Ekuwem; commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Charles Udoh; chairman, Technical Committee on Foreign Direct Investment, Mr Gabriel Ukpe, among others.