Speaking on the Kaduna- based Liberty Radio programme’s Guest of the Week, the envoy said that the US does not have any candidate for the 2015 election, and that its only concern is a credible and transparent election better than that of 2011.
The US Ambassador was asked to react to a request by the President’s Assistant on Niger Delta Affairs, Kingsley Kuku, that the US government is in support of the President’s re-election bid in 2015.
His words: “We don’t have a candidate for the 2015 elections except that we want credible and transparent elections and a process where all Nigerians can peacefully exercise their right to vote. We are not going to take a position on any individual candidate.
“We are going to help the Nigerian people to ensure that the elections in 2015 are better than the one in 2011. It is up to the Nigerian people to respond to Hon. Kuku’s statement. We don’t take a decision on individual political candidates.
“We believe that Nigeria has made great progress in the construction of its democratic institutions and we hope that in 2015, it is going to be peacefully contested on issues and the Nigerian people will decide on who they will vote for….”
Nigeria’s image, he stressed, could be improved if the government addressed issues of corruption and insecurity in the country.
“What Nigeria needs to do to effect a change to its brand is to attack corruption, address insecurity, ensure that there is a level playing field for all investors, and ensure that there is an end to the culture of impunity,” he said.
According to him, all those found to be corrupt or commit abuses should be tried.
He said once that is done “you are going to have more people come to Nigeria.”
The US envoy also spoke on the recent killings in Baga, Borno State. He said: “I think we don’t know all of the facts on Baga and I will certainly encourage investigation of what happened there by government and other organisations like the Red Cross so that we can be fully informed.
“But as a general principle, in looking at the insecurity in the north, we see terrible, terrible acts perpetrated by extremists who attack some government offices, attacks on individuals. We saw what happened in Kano. In January 2012 we saw what happened in Kaduna, we condemned them.
“At the same time, in looking at the reaction and response of the security forces, clearly they have a duty to provide security, to go after these people who are killing other people, at the same time they need to do so with a fashion that respects rights…..
“This is a difficult systematic war that the Nigerian military is engaging them in the north and there would be incidents where they are excessive.
“But they need to end this culture of impunity. There is need to bring to prosecution those who commit crimes. There is need to be punishment for those who are killing. Because that is a strong and powerful signal to the people of the north who are most affected by this. The security forces are there to protect themselves.”