As Nigerians prepare to go to the polls in less than three weeks, the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria James Entwistle has urged politicians to show enough courage and maturity in accepting the results of the polls without resorting to violence even when poll results do not go their way. Ambassador Entwistle also commended the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the proposed use of Permanent Voters’ Card (PVC) and card readers in the 2015 elections which he described as modern and unique.
He spoke in Abuja on March 5, during an election conference organized by the Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumni Association of Nigeria (MWFAAN). The conference focused on the role of stakeholder groups and the Nigerian citizens in promoting peaceful, credible 2015 elections.
Other guests who spoke at the conference included Dr. Chidi Odinkalu, chairman, governing council National Human Rights Commission, Barrister Oluwale Osaze-Uzzi, Director INEC Voter Education, and Barrister Cynthia Mbamalu Program Manager at Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement. In his contribution, Dr. Odinkalu said one of the best ways to guarantee peace in 2015, is for all Nigerians to work to make the general elections free, fair, and credible. He cautioned that the March 28 and April 11 dates for the presidential and parliamentary elections, should not be tempered with as doing so would result to chaos.
The Mandela Washington Fellowship (MWF) is the flagship program of the President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) and embodies his commitment to invest in the future of Africa. Each year, fellows of the program are competitively selected across Africa spending six weeks of intensive executive leadership training, networking, and skills building in the U.S., followed by a Presidential Summit in Washington, D.C. The initiative has offered young African leaders an opportunity to gain skills and connections needed to accelerate individual career trajectories. Alumni of the MWF are expected to contribute more robustly to strengthening democratic institutions, and enhancing peace and security in their countries.