By Francis Sardauna in Katsina
Barely a week to the governorship and House of Assembly elections, the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Stuart Symington, has admonished the governorship candidates of the various political parties in the country to observe decorum and imbibe spirit of sportsmanship before, during and after the elections.
The ambassandor, who made the call in Katsina Saturday, when he paid a courtesy visit to Governor Aminu Bello Masari at the Government House, emphasised that the US government is not supporting any candidate in the forthcoming elections.
Symington reiterated that the US Embassy would not interfere in the country’s electoral process, adding that his visit to the state was to talk to political office seekers who have interest in governing the state on the need to maintain peace.
He said: “My visit to Katsina is to talk to those who seek to lead Katsina in the future about some of their ideas. We never have a candidate in an election. We never take side but we do take side in peace. So, as the people of Katsina look forward to participate in this election next week, they should note that security is very fundamental and the security is not the job of security persons alone but of everybody in the state.”
He urged Nigerians to go out and exercise their franchise on the day of the election and shun acts capable of truncating the electoral process, adding that: “And remember, as you vote, it is your choice. We have no candidate, no party, except the very democratic process itself.”
While calling on the governorship and state House Assembly candidates to consider the interest of the country against their personal interests, the US ambassador to Nigeria said: “Election come and go but our nations remain. So, we look forward to see your cooperation to ensure a rancour-free election in Nigeria.”
Responding, Governor Masari reminded his visitor that the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state embarked on issue-based campaigns across the 34 local government areas of the state in an atmosphere devoid of chaos.
According to the governor, “What is historic about this year’s campaigns which we ran throughout the 34 LGAs is that we never had an incident of violence and also non of the young men and women following us carried a single arm.
“Likewise when the president came, it was the biggest political gathering ever in Katsina State. No weapon or any harmful instruments were seen and he came, addressed the people and went to Daura, not even a motorcycle accident.”
He said the APC government has given the opposition parties in the state a level-playing field to discharge their electioneering, adding that his “administration has accorded all the facilities available that the opposition required when their presidential candidate came”.
The governor re-emphaised that his government will continue to protect the lives and property of the citizenry irrespective of religious, tribal and political affiliations, explaining that it was the responsibility of government to sustain peace in the state.