TRANSCRIPT: Ambassador W. Stuart Symington on 2019 Nigeria Elections

Hi. I’m Stuart Symington. I’m the United States Ambassador to Nigeria and I want to talk to you for a few minutes about your upcoming elections. These elections are a remarkable opportunity for all Nigerians to come together and for every citizen to express their will. What the United States hopes to see in your elections in this year of 2019 are elections that are free, fair, credible, transparent, and above all peaceful.

In this process I know one thing; it is absolutely important for the citizens of Nigeria to personally take part beginning right now by making sure that you know what your rights are. Then on Election Day, you won’t have an effect unless you vote. It’s terribly important that you work together to make sure that your votes are counted. You know, as we get ready for your elections, one of the most important things is that there be a level-playing field. Meaning that no officials, no security forces, no electoral officials, no politicians seek to influence you in a way that is not consistent with Nigerian law.

Elections are only one part of the democratic process. The words and the actions that happen in these final days of the campaign, and then all the work of government after are as important in a democracy as the elections themselves. So there it isn’t a nutshell. Number one, Know your rights. Number two, vote and exercise them. Number three, if you work for the government or if you work for a party, make sure you remember that it is your individual responsibility to act consistent with the laws.

And then finally remember that elections are only one part of democracy and on this level playing field it’s incredibly important to think there has to be a path forward to the future for every Nigeria. Whatever your faith whatever your language whatever the place you come from, finding your path forward together is the heart of democracy. It’s the heart of freedom. It’s the hope for free enterprise and free people and it’s Nigeria’s future. Good luck and I hope your elections are even better than they were in 2015.