Mr. John Bray, the United States Consul General, has said his government is committed to ensuring free, credible, peaceful and decent elections in Nigeria in 2019. He made the remarks during the commemoration of the World Press Freedom Day organised by the Public Affairs Unit of the U.S. Consulate in Lagos Thursday. The theme for this year’s edition is ‘Media and the Transparency of the 2019 Elections.’
While the former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Dr. Chidi Odinkalu, spoke on media transparency, a professor of political science and former Vice-Chancellor of the Adekunle Ajasin University, Ondo State, Femi Mimiko, spoke on media and electoral disputes. Other speakers include the Zonal Public Relations Officer, of the Nigeria Police Zone 2 Command, CSP Dolapo Badmus, who spoke on the safety of the media.
In his speech, Bray said: “The United States values the freedom of the press as a key component of democratic governance. I have been in Nigeria for nearly six years. I have been Consul General since 2015 and as Consul General, I have visited each of the 17 states in southern Nigeria, almost all of them on multiple locations. I have spoken with hundreds, perhaps thousands of Nigerians about democracy, elections, and the history of Nigeria. These conversations have confirmed my belief that Nigeria has a vibrant democracy.
“Democratic societies are not infallible but they are accountable, and the exchange of ideas is the foundation for accountable governance. Peaceful and credible elections are essential to Nigeria’s continued economic, political, and social development so I am interested in your discussions today on media and the transparency of the 2019 election. Nigeria plays a vital role on the world stage and as the largest economy in sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria’s stability is crucial to the security and economic prosperity of the rest of the continent. Nigeria’s future is full of promise and opportunity. The U.S. government is dedicated to supporting Nigerians in ensuring that the 2019 elections will be transparent, credible, and peaceful.”