The All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Council has warned the United States Ambassador, Stuart Symington, and other diplomats against making statements which are capable of undermining the integrity of the Nigerian general elections starting this Saturday .
Backstory: The Director of Strategic Communication of the party’s campaign, Mr. Festus Keyamo (SAN) expressed worry in a statement issued on Tuesday, saying that comments allegedly made by diplomats will create doubt in the ability of the Buhari-led administration to conduct free and fair elections.
While referring to recent statements attributed to the US ambassador, APC stated that it would appear that the envoys have discredited the election even before it took place.
“We are deeply concerned about many of the expressions of the United States’ Ambassador to Nigeria, Ambassador W. Stuart Symington, and other Western diplomats, which have been directed towards Nigeria’s upcoming elections,” the statement read. “While we laud and whole-heartedly welcome their interests in the elections, many of these expressions have been notably off-key. The continued warnings about flawed elections are capable of casting an unwarranted cloud over the process.”
He said the “unwarranted” comments are an attempt to interfere in the internal affairs of Nigeria.
“We truly hope some of the statements attributed to these diplomats are inaccurate; the unfounded allegations and threats to penalize people for constitutionally-protected free speech is improper interference in our internal affairs,” Keyamo said.
“We all agree that any speech wilfully intended to trigger violence is condemnable. However, in condemning other forms of political speech, the American envoy overstepped his ambassadorial brief.”
“We take the view that the constant statements by Ambassador Symington and the other diplomats are implicit attacks against the government of Nigeria.”
The APC also alleged that the ambassador intentionally issued threats on speeches in Nigeria whereas, if uttered in America, the same speeches would be constitutionally protected.
“For us, it is significant to note that such strong political speeches are not unlawful in the United States, but Ambassador Symington is seeking to penalize such speeches by Nigerians.
“He seeks to shrink our ambit of free speech so that we may behave in accordance with their vision of well-behaved Africans, rather than in consonance with our vision of our own democracy, no matter how tumultuous and dramatic we may be. It would appear that his position seeks to prohibit forms of expression integral to our political discourse,” APC stated.