Nigeria 2015: US ‘disturbed’ by politicians’ peace-pact pledge

United States Consul-General, Jeffrey Hawkins

The United States Consul-General in Nigeria has expressed concern over the attitude of the nation’s politicians towards violence ahead of the general elections.

Jeffrey Hawkins, who spoke at this year’s African-American History Month Program in Lagos, Wednesday, said that the US has remained committed to a violence-free election in the forthcoming polls.

“As I mentioned earlier, we’ve been very active in promoting non-violence, the US Mission, and in some of our conversations we hear things from your politicians that sometimes disturb us,” said Mr. Hawkins.

“We will say non-violence, it’s important for you to take a pledge and the politician will say ‘of course I’m absolutely opposed to violence’ and sometimes that’s followed with a ‘but.’ ‘But if the other side does it then we have to do it.’

“There is no ‘but.’ There is no nuance to non-violence. Non-violence is non violence irrespective of what non-violence faces. It’s a hugely important lesson from Dr. (Martin Luther) King’s experience.”

In January, major political parties and their presidential candidates met in Abuja to sign an undertaking to avoid actions that could promote violence during and after the polls.

Last Monday, the US Mission in Lagos hosted a pledge event for the two major gubernatorial contestants in the state, Akinwunmi Ambode and Jimi Agbaje of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, respectively.

Mr. Hawkins said that a similar event was organized in Rivers State for the governorship candidates ahead of the election.

“Committing to non-violence, in the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., also means that you will not engage in or support violence for any reason, no matter what others do,” Mr. Hawkins said.

“And if you hear about plans of violent acts to be perpetrated by others, you will do whatever you can to stop it. And you will speak out against those who advocate violence to let everyone around you know that Nigerians can do better than that. That, and no less than that, is what Dr. King would expect.”

‘Vote not Fight’

The African-American History Month is a celebration of the heritage of African-Americans and their contributions to the US society. Every February, the program honours the struggles and triumphs of millions of American citizens over obstacles like slavery, prejudice, poverty, as well as their contributions to the country’s cultural and political life.

Last Sunday, the movie ‘Selma,’ a movie chronicling Mr. King’s campaign to secure equal voting rights for all Americans, was premiered at House on the Rock in Lagos.

Mr. Hawkins said that lessons from Mr. King’s life as a civil rights leader is “tremendously relevant” to Nigeria’s democratic exercise.

“First of all, it is so important to cast your vote. People have marched, been bitten by dogs and beaten by police and died to obtain the right to vote. When we have the right to vote but don’t use it, we disrespect their memory,” he said.

“So, I urge all Nigerians who are eligible to vote, to do so. Vote. It’s one of the most powerful weapons that we have in large, animated democracies like Nigeria and the United States. Please vote.

“Secondly, for the first time in the history of the United States, we now have an African-American President in the White House. Having lived through the Civil Rights era of the 1960’s, and having recently relived the experience through watching the film, Selma, I can confirm that the contrast is startling.

“Who would have thought, 50 years ago, that it would even be conceivable to have an African-American President of the United States of America? This just goes to show how genuine change, through the democratic process, is absolutely possible. But you must exercise your right to vote to make change happen, to vote into office people who have a vision for a new Nigeria.”

Mr. Hawkins also said that the US had been delighted to see the Nigerian media, civil society and entertainers like 2Face with his “Vote not Fight” campaign take up the message of a violence-free election.

“As President Jonathan said in his New Year’s message, no one’s political ambition is worth the blood of any of your countrymen, women, and children,” he said.

“And as General Buhari recently tweeted, electoral violence is unacceptable, and every Nigerian life is sacred. Both presidential candidates have also signed on to the so-called Abuja Accord, which commits them to running exclusively issue-based campaigns, refraining from violence before and during and after election day, and speaking out against any violence that does emerge.

“These are commitments that we need to see from everyone and they are commitments that need to be kept.”


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  • BlackieUmukoro

    And undisturbed about the activities of boko haram that also accounted for the election shift. Why can’t this ambassador or by whatever nomenclature just sharaap and stop this annoyig meddlesome interlopping

    • Maitama Tambari.

      Umukoro has been hit by the truth from God Owns Country’s Counsel General that he forgot his nomenclature and their favorite USA. PDP is now so confused to the extent that naming truth is true, pandemonium start in their Campaign Office. Misguided trapped youths are forced to negatively react with abuses to any comment, advise and contribution by person of goodwill with attack without adding value to the discuss. CHANGE! YES WE CAN.

      • BlackieUmukoro

        You are a confirmed coward
        Sent from my BlackBerry wireless device from MTN

  • evi

    US should face their problems and leave us to ours. This big brother role is no longer fashionable, that’s how they said Al queda was history but it has evolved into a more deadly ISIS.ISIs just killed the fourth American ,a lady and still waxing strong, I don’t see anybody from Nigeria criticising them,measles epidemic is ravaging parts of America and they can’t even contain it or convince their half educated parents to immunise their children against the disease , the average American is ignorant and lazy, their educational system is in tatters,that is why people prefer to send their children to school in the UK .They have reached the peak of civilisation and they are on the way down and they are looking for who to drag into their immoral existence, they celebrate homosexuality more than heterosexuality.