2019: US Ambassador calls for free, fair, credible elections

Posted by News Express | 23 November 2018 | 826 times

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• United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington

United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington, has reiterated the call for free, fair and credible elections, as well as, good leadership, as crucial to national unity and development.

“As we approach the election it is essential that it should be about freedom, fairness credibility, transparency and peaceful activities. It should be about something more which is the future of Nigeria,” he said.

The ambassador, who made the call in Lagos, at this year’s annual seminar by Hubert H Humphrey Fellowship Alumni Association, said: “Nigeria needs leaders with integrity, transparent character, faithfulness and other good values to overcome current challenges.

“I urge all who seek to lead in Nigeria to use the love of her diversity, resilience and good cultural heritage to ensure quality and good representation of the Nigerian people.”

Speaking on the theme, “The Youth and Transformational Leadership in Nigeria”, Symington said many Nigerians were noted for resilience and can-do-spirit, hence the need for mass mobilisation of eligible voters, particularly youths to participate actively in the current political process.

Earlier, president of the group, Mojisola Onifade, stressed the need to invest in youth empowerment and leadership initiatives from an early age.

“The nation will develop faster in all areas of our democracy and political sphere if appropriate policies are initiated to empower youths and the populace to become champions of change from a young age at grassroots levels,” she stressed.

Similarly, the US envoy said Nigeria’s greatest asset was its youths, hence the need to provide them with critical resources and trainings for them to become positive change agents in the nation’s economic and political growth.

“The youth of Nigeria is a powerful force for good not just in Nigeria but the whole world. But the challenge now is how can those youths and people in Nigeria take that resource and make Nigeria better than it is? For me that requires the thinking of the country, the thinking of others and not self.

“Youths should actively participate in politics, be keen about reading and stay abreast of development,” he stated.

He described the country’s population, as the biggest resource in determining the kind of democracy the populace wants.

Earlier in his presentation on “The Nigerian Youth and the Structural Imperatives of Leadership Development”, Prof. Tunji Olaopa said the success of governance in any organised political system is determined by the quality of leadership in the government.

He said after 58 years of independence, Nigeria still battles with leadership and governance problems, due to poor and visionless leadership.

Olaopa a retired Federal Permanent Secretary and Executive Vice-Chairman, Ibadan School of Government & Public Policy (ISGPP) most political leaders were involved in corruption and mismanagement of public resources, leading to numerous social economic and political problems across the nation.

“Nigeria needs more than ordinary managers of national affairs. Without transformational leadership, Nigeria may continue to lag behind, while other societies speed to success and in some cases, using Nigeria’s resources.”

He said despite huge resources spent on policies for good governance, there have not been visible changes in the living standards of many citizens.

Nigeria, he argued, “has potentials to enter into a redefining era depending on how it harnesses its demographics to create the fundamentals for a reinforcing cycle that combines economic growth, investment in human capital, good governance and bold policies to resolve the youth challenge.”

“Indeed, taking the youths to next level demands leadership sophistication and commitment at the level of a paradigm shift. Such a shift will require deepening the structural basis for a patriotic relationship between the youth and the Nigerian state, whether one likes it or not, those who are helplessly caught in the grip of poverty and unemployment, constitute the bulk of the population. They cannot be expected to be loyal to the leadership or the Nigerian Project,” he stressed.

The programme was attended by distinguished personalities including wife of Taraba State Governor, Mrs Anna Ishaku, and many distinguished Humphrey fellows. It also featured presentations from Dapo Oyewole, a public policy expert, Samson Itodo, a democracy activist and Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin, a social impact entrepreneur.

Source: News Express

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