The United States Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle, has declared his country’s support for a free and fair election in Nigeria this February.
Entwistle said this while addressing Nigerian journalists on the need to refine and learn new techniques in election reporting, at a workshop entitled ‘Community Reporting for Building of Democratic Values in the Run-up to the 2015 general elections.’
“The United States strongly supports a free, transparent, credible, inclusive, and nonviolent electoral process in Nigeria. We shall continue to call upon all Nigerians to refrain from advocating, fomenting, or condoning violence before, during, or after the elections,” Entwistle said.
He therefore urged political parties and the government to ensure that all registered voters participate freely in a peaceful and transparent process. But they must create an environment where that can happen. He also implored the country’s political leadership and aspirants to refrain from the use of inflammatory rhetorics.
Speaking further, he said: “Journalists are expected to become experts who report on election rules, from how those rules govern the preparation of voter rolls to the tallying of final vote counts. Journalists in democracies have the vital task of reporting on the issues that voters want politicians to address, and helping to hold elected officials accountable for their campaign promises.”
“Good journalism, therefore is fundamental to an election process that protects the rights of all Nigerians to use the ballot box to reflect the views and concerns of their communities. 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.
“Your work carries a tremendous amount of responsibility, and the shape and outcome of the electoral process depend in very great measure on the good work you do. 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 for timely, accurate, and insightful reporting that will reflect whether those goals are being met,” the American ambassador said.