Lagos – The U.S. Consul-General in Nigeria, Mr Jeffery Hawkins, has challenged Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Nigeria to be alive to their responsibility of ensuring credible and non-violent elections.
Hawkins gave the challenge on Wednesday in Lagos at the 2015 anniversary of the U.S. Black History Month and Dr Beko Ransome-Kuti Memorial Programme.
The event, with the theme “Non-Violent Democratic Change,” was jointly organised by the U.S. Consulate in Lagos, Centre for the Rule of Law and the Lagos branch of Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR).
Hawkins said: “as civil society organisations, you need to begin to consider how best you can be involved in the conduct of credible, free and non-violent elections.
“Above all, as civil society organisations you should truly be the society’s watchdog during and after the elections.
“There is need for Nigerians to shun all forms of violence during the elections.’’
The envoy also stressed the need for the CSOs to organise themselves into a `focused and organised’ group to ensure the conduct of non-violent elections in March 28.
He called on Nigerians to come en masse and vote “massively’’ for candidates of their choice during the polls.
Hawkins said February of every year was set aside to honour the struggles, triumphs and contributions of millions of American citizens to the nation’s cultural and political life.
In his remark at the occasion, Chief Femi Falana (SAN), human rights lawyer, stressed the need for the ballot box to determine the outcome of the elections.
He said that adult suffrage and one-man-one vote got America’s democracy to its present enviable state.
He urged Nigerians to shun elections based on religious, ethnic, cultural and social sentiments.
“We must not allow the enemies of our democracy to reduce our elections to that of religious, ethnic and other sentiments.
“We are insisting that the elections must hold and that whoever wins would become the president of this country,’’ he said.