U.S. Ambassador James F. Entwistle said no American official ever said that Nigeria would disintegrate in 2015, as is being suggested by some Nigerians, and he wants that recurring question put to rest. Ambassador Entwistle spoke at a roundtable discussion with Kano youth leaders of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), hosted by U.S. Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield, on Sunday, February 16.
The assistant secretary, who was visiting Kano for the first time in her new position, said that America wants Nigeria to succeed, and it is Nigerians’ responsibility, to make their country a success.
Most participants at the round- table expressed concerns about the 2015 elections, asking what the U.S. government was doing to ensure that elections in Nigeria would be free, fair, credible, and non-violent. “I will throw back that question to you all: what are you doing as leaders in your communities to ensure that the youth populations contribute in a positive way to free, fair, transparent, and peaceful elections?,” the assistant secretary asked the youth leaders.
She said the United States government would provide supportive tools, but it was Nigerians’ role to ensure free, fair, and non-violent elections in their country.
The assistant secretary also said that America is working with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure that people have faith in the process. “People also have to be educated to understand that some candidates may not win in an election. That a candidate did not win does not mean that the election was not a free, fair, and transparent process.”
Twenty seven youth activists—including students, small business owners, and professionals working in diverse areas of advocacy in northern Nigeria for youth empowerment, community development, democracy, health, gender issues, and interfaith dialogue—participated in the roundtable.