Buhari Warns US Envoy Stuart Symington To Respect Nigeria’s Sovereignty & Stop Supporting Atiku
By Eniola Akinkuotu, Punch NG
Buhari Campaign Organisation, spokesman, Mr Festus Keyamo (SAN), has accused the United States Ambassador, Stuart Symington, and other western ambassadors of partiality and tacit support for the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar.
Keyamo said this in a statement he issued in reaction to threats by Symington that persons who indulge in hate speech would be dealt with by the US.
Symington had also warned public officials not to obey unlawful directives issued in the name of the “boss,” saying any politician whose utterances incite people to violence would be held to account for the crime.
The ambassador’s warning came a day after Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State threatened that foreign persons who interfere in the elections would leave Nigeria in body bags, a statement that was defended by the Presidency.
However, Keyamo said the utterances of some western powers were giving the impression that Buhari was planning to rig Saturday’s elections.
The campaign spokesman also questioned the decision of the US Government to issue a visa to Atiku despite being accused of corruption.
The statement read in part,
“We take the view that the constant statements by Ambassador Symington and the other diplomats are implicit attacks against the government of Nigeria. These statements imply the Nigerian government is inclined to rig the election in favour of President Muhammadu Buhari. This is unfair and unacceptable to us. President Muhammadu Buhari has never been accused of electoral malpractice all his life.
Keyamo said threatening to deal with persons who make certain utterances was an abuse of free speech which is guaranteed by both the Nigerian and the United States’ constitutions.
He said contrary to insinuations, it was the PDP that rigged in 2015 especially in the South-South geopolitical zone where the party won.
The statement added;
“The continued reference and praise of the 2015 elections by Ambassador Symington clearly shows he needs further briefing about the Nigerian situation. For his information, the 2015 presidential election, at the end of the day, produced the correct outcome, but with flawed figures in many areas. Though they lost, the figures attributed to the PDP were inflated in many places, especially in the South-South, to save the face of the past President (Goodluck Jonathan) and to reduce the margin of his defeat. President Buhari is determined to improve on the 2015 elections and so it cannot even be our benchmark.”
He said contrary to speculations, it was only the PDP that depended on rigging for victory in Saturday’s elections.
“An American ambassador has a great responsibility in representing the strongest economic and military power in the world. His comments carry weight because of the status of his nation. This means his comments should reflect a deep knowledge of the subject. Sadly, Ambassador Symington has not shown the deep knowledge of the Nigerian situation. The impression he creates by constantly harping on suspected government interference with the electoral process is that President Buhari cannot win without tipping the results. He seems to be saying that only a PDP victory will be evidence of a fair election.
“Again, he is in great error. From all of the information at our disposal, President Buhari can and should win a free and fair election. However, it appears to us that Ambassador Symington is substituting his subjective conclusions for the sovereign will of the Nigerian people. In doing so, he has abandoned the impartiality of a true envoy and has trespassed into interfering in our electoral process.”
Keyamo said the US envoy should not only face the ruling party but also focus on the opposition party.
He said the days of colonialism were long gone and therefore advised Symington to respect Nigeria’s sovereignty.