Following Kaduna governor Nasir El-Rufai’s controversial statement regarding foreign election observers, the US ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington has warned that “the words spoken about the election are as important in the democratic process as the elections themselves.”

In a video message to Nigerians, the US envoy said citizens must vote to have an effect on the country’s electoral process.

“The elections are a remarkable opportunity for all Nigerians to come together and for every citizen to express their will. What the United States hopes to see in your elections this year 2019 are elections that are free, fair, credible and, above all, transparent,” he said.

“In this process, I know one thing: it is absolutely important for the citizens of Nigeria to personally take part, beginning right now by knowing what your rights are.

“On election day, you won’t have an effect unless you vote. It’s important that you work together to make sure that your votes are counted.

“As we get ready for your elections, one of the most important things is that there is a level playing field, meaning that no officials, no security forces, no electoral officials, no politicians seek to influence you in a way that is not consistent with the Nigerian law.

“Elections are only one part of the democratic process. The words and the actions that happen in these final days and all the work of government afterwards, are as important to democracy as the elections themselves.”

It would be recalled that El-Rufai had on Tuesday made death threats to foreigners that want to intervene in Nigeria’s elections.

Speaking during an NTA Tuesday Live programme, El-Rufai said: “Those that are calling for anyone to come and intervene in Nigeria, we are waiting for the person that would come and intervene, they would go back in body bags.”

His threat has drawn widespread criticism, with the opposition Peoples Democratic Party calling for a travel ban imposed on him.

Similarly, the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) has replied El-Rufai, stating that it would not relent in observing and analysing the general elections despite his death threat.

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