Abuja - U.S. President Barrack Obama on Monday called on Nigerians to be peaceful as they vote in the March 28 presidential polls.
In a special message to Nigerians on the 2015 elections, Obama urged citizens to vote peacefully and reject those who call for violence.
"Now you have a historic opportunity to help write the next chapter of Nigeria’s progress—by voting in the upcoming elections.
"For elections to be credible, they must be free, fair and peaceful. All Nigerians must be able to cast their votes without intimidation or fear.
"So I call on all leaders and candidates to make it clear to their supporters that violence has no place in democratic elections”, Obama said.
According him they should not incite, support or engage in any kind of violence—before, during, or after the votes are counted. "I call on all Nigerians to peacefully express your views and to reject the voices of those who call for violence," he said.
Obama said when elections were free and fair it was the responsibility of all citizens to help keep the peace, no matter who wins.
According to him, successful elections and democratic progress will help Nigeria meet its current urgent challenges.
Obama declared that Boko Haram, "a brutal terrorist group that kills innocent men, women and children", must be stopped. He said hundreds of kidnapped children deserved to be returned to their families adding, that Nigerians who have been forced to flee deserve to return to their homes.
"Boko Haram wants to destroy Nigeria and all that you have worked to build. By casting your ballot you can help secure your nation’s progress.
Also read: First Lady urges electorate to guard votes
"I’m told that there is a saying in your country: “to keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done.”
The U.S. President commended the resilience of Nigerians in attaining independence and emerging from military rule to strengthening the democratic institutions.
He declared Nigeria as a great nation adding that Nigerians should be proud of the progress they had made in building the country.
"Today, I want to speak directly to you—the people of Nigeria. Nigeria is a great nation and you can be proud of the progress you’ve made.
"Together, you won your independence, emerged from military rule, and strengthened democratic institutions.
"You’ve strived to overcome division and to turn Nigeria’s diversity into a source of strength.
"You’ve worked hard to improve the lives of your families and to build the largest economy in Africa," he said.
Obama said there was the need for all Nigerians to, in their diversity, unite and keep the country as one.
"Today, I urge all Nigerians—from all religions, all ethnic groups, and all regions—to come together and keep Nigeria one.
"And in this task of advancing the security, prosperity, and human rights of all Nigerians, you will continue to have a friend and partner in the United States of America," Obama said.