‘United States Supporting Atiku, PDP’ – Buhari’s APC Alleges

The All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential campaign council on Monday said it was deeply concerned about 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.

Its spokesman, Festus Keyamo, in a statement
made available to DAILY POST, suggested that the countries were
tactically supporting the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and its
presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.

He noted that the continued warning of a flawed process was an unwarranted cloud over the process.

Keyamo noted that instead of encouraging our country towards credible elections, such statements undermine public confidence.

He
said: “It would appear that these envoys seem to have discredited the
election before it has even taken place. We truly hope some of the
statements attributed to these diplomats are inaccurate. 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. For instance, the American
Ambassador was reported to have condemned a situation where a candidate
says that his opponent’s political and economic policies are abhorrent
and dangerous to the greater welfare of the people and calls on the
citizens to hate and reject such policies.

“In our view, this is a
correct statement because it is the duty of the candidate to tell the
people these truths to protect the nation from subsequent calamity. But
Ambassador Symington says his country would punish such necessary
political speeches.

“For us it is significant to note 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.

“However, Ambassador Symington intentionally
issued his threats to place a chilling effect on speeches in Nigeria
that, if uttered in America, would be constitutionally protected.
Unfounded allegations and threats to penalize people for
constitutionally-protected free speech is improper interference in our
internal affairs. Sadly, what Ambassador Symington and some other
western diplomats are doing border on the improper.

“We take the
view that the constant statements by Ambassador Symington and the other
diplomats are implicit attacks against the government of Nigeria. These
statements imply the Nigerian government is inclined to rig the election
in favour of President Muhammadu Buhari. This is unfair and
unacceptable to us. President Muhammadu Buhari has never been accused of
electoral malpractice all his life. However, in contrast, former Vice
President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar publicly boasted a few months ago that
he rigged the 2003 election in the Southwest States. Here, we have an
open confession of blatant electoral malfeasance by the PDP candidate.
But in all of these, there seem to be no concern by Ambassador Symington
and other diplomats about this well-acknowledged proclivity of the main
opposition.

“We expected that such open confession to rigging in
the past would have drawn condemnation from the United States. Rather
what we witnessed recently was the ignoble act of giving such a
self-confessed rigger with a decade-old indictment in America for
corruption hanging over his head a special status to enter the U.S for a
few days. Such is the double standard that America now displays for the
whole world to see. It is unfortunate that most of these countries that
sermonize about free and fair elections have ugly histories of denial
of voting right to people because of their colour and are still facing
many challenges with their electoral systems till date.

“The
continued reference and praise of the 2015 election by Ambassador
Symington clearly shows he needs further briefing about the Nigerian
situation. For his information, the 2015 presidential election, at the
end of the day, produced the correct outcome, but with flawed figures in
many areas. Though they lost, the figures attributed to the PDP were
inflated in many places, especially in the South South, to save the face
of the past President and to reduce the margin of his defeat. President
Buhari is determined to improve on the 2015 elections and so it cannot
even be our benchmark.

“An American ambassador has a great
responsibility in representing the strongest economic and military power
in the world. His comments carry weight because of the status of his
nation. This means his comments should reflect a deep knowledge of the
subject. Sadly, Ambassador Symington has not shown the deep knowledge of
Nigerian situation. The impression he creates by constantly harping on
suspected government interference with the electoral process is that
President Buhari cannot win without tipping the results. He seems to be
saying that only a PDP victory will be evidence of a fair election.

“Again,
he is in great error. From all of the information at our disposal,
President Buhari can and should win a free and fair election. However,
it appears to us that Ambassador Symington is substituting his
subjective conclusions for the sovereign will of the Nigerian people. In
doing so, he has abandoned the impartiality of a true envoy and has
trespassed into interfering in our electoral process.

“Instead of
encouraging free and fair elections, these judgmental statements and
threats only cast an unnecessary pall over the elections and the nation.
This is an international disservice and not international diplomacy.
The days of unquestioned condescension to Western powers are long gone
and we are not prepared at this time in Nigeria to recede to that era.

“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.”

Source:- Dailypostng