The Head of the European Union Delegation to Nigeria and the Economic Community of West Africa States, Ambassador Ketil Karlsen, has said that the mission of the EU delegation to Nigeria is not to select a leader for the country in the February 16, elections.
A statement by the Special Adviser to the Governor of Bayelsa on Media, Mr. Fidelis Soriwei, quoted Karlsen as saying during a courtesy visit to the Governor Henry, Seriake Dickson, in Government House, Yenagoa.
Karlsen who stressed that the EU did not have any political aspiration in the country, stressed that the body was only committed to the conduct of free and fair elections in the country.
The EU ambassador said that Nigeria sent a strong message to the international community with the outcome of the 2015 general elections that it was possible to have elections with acceptable results.
According to him, it was the interest of the EU to support the consolidation of democracy in Nigeria as part of efforts to secure the stability, development, and creation of opportunities for its ordinary citizens.
Ambassador Karlsen charged Nigerians especially the youths to contribute to the achievement of the desired free, fair and credible elections.
His words: “We are visiting at this important moment ahead of the presidential elections and of course the state elections in so many parts of Nigeria to express to you the governor, and your team the importance that we attach to having a free, fair and credible, peaceful and transparent elections in Nigeria.
“We are strong believers in the consolidation of democracy as the best if not the only way to continue stability and development and creation of opportunities for ordinary Nigerians.
”And that is why we reiterate again and again that for the EU and the international community at large, we are not here to select the leadership of Nigeria. That cannot be and should not be our aspiration.
“Our only desire is to see to a fair process of the election in this country because that is what is providing that legitimacy of the democratically- elected government, whether at the federal or state level.
“And Nigeria demonstrated wonderfully in the last election in 2015 how the outcome of a democratic election can prevail. That message was very powerful within Nigeria but it resonated far, far beyond the borders of Nigeria, to West Africa and to the world.”
Responding, Governor Dickson commended the EU and its partner agencies for embarking on various projects that support and promote the course of development and stability in communities, disclosing that Bayelsa has been a beneficiary of such projects.
However, the governor expressed concern over the conduct of security agencies in the forthcoming elections.
Dickson assured that Bayelsa was committed to the conduct of free, fair and credible elections and would not act in any way that could compromise the integrity of the electoral process.
The governor who stressed that Nigeria was faced with a defining moment in its democratic experience, commended friendly nations for their positions on critical developments in the country.
According to him, the international community acted right to remind the country of its responsibility and duties to do what is right, fair and internationally acceptable, as a responsible member of the committee of nations.
His words: “Let me thank you and appreciate you and your team, the EU mission, for the great work of collaboration and partnership that your mission has been doing for a long time, supporting right causes and the course of development, supporting the course to prosperity and stability in communities.
”I want to thank and appreciate you because in this state, we are beneficiaries of a number of project or programmes that are funded by the EU and your partner agencies and nations and for that, ambassador, we are very grateful.
“This is an important period in the life of this country. I thank the EU and all other friendly nations who have made statements on critical developments in Nigeria, reminding this country of our responsibilities and duties to do what is right, fair and internationally acceptable.
“Our country is not a pariah nation and we are not an island of our own. Nigeria, I believe, is a responsible member of the international community with rights and duties, and others have expectations, the legitimate expectations of what we should be doing and we are signatories to a lot of international treaties and protocols.
“We are all concerned about the elections, electoral body with respect to the behaviour and conduct of the security agencies. We are all concerned whether the elections will be free and credible.”