From Ali Abare Abubakar, Lafia
The United States Ambassador in Nigeria, James .F. Entwistle, has said that democracy is much more than election but the evolving of transparent institutions and strong, independent judiciary, stressing that elections are but gateways to democracy.
The Ambassador stated this yesterday in a speech he delivered on the occasion of a courtesy visit he paid on Governor Umaru Tanko Al-makura at the Lafia Government House.
Entwistle while noting that the US and Nigeria share certain historical similarities, with both countries being democratic as well as having experienced civil wars, which he said, “almost separated us”, the US envoy pointed out that reconciliation and nation building are difficult tasks which could take time.
He stated that the US has been following Nigeria’s preparation towards the 2015 general election, adding that his country is partnering the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as well as the civil society to ensure the conduct of credible, free and fair election.
He maintained that the 2015 elections will be an important test for Nigeria, urging politicians, the media and individuals to pledge that they will not advocate, support or condone violence before, during and after the elections.
He told Al-makura that he was sent to Nigeria as the country’s Ambassador and not that of Abuja, saying that explains the need for him to leave his office to embark on a tour of the country, starting with the North central states of Benue, Nasarawa and Plateau.
Entwistle, who was accompanied by his wife, Mrs Pamela Schmoll, as well as other embassy officials, emphasized the importance of US-Nigeria bilateral relationship in terms of trade, economics and democracy issues.
He also harped on the need for both countries to partner in security, advancing access for all Nigerians to education and health resources.
Responding, Al-makura, described the visit by the US Ambassador as a blessing that would open windows of opportunity to the state.
He used the opportunity of the visit to seek collaboration in the area of education adding that the state government will welcome investors keen in the areas of solid mineral mining, real estate, agriculture and infrastructure.