•Call for setting up of committee to look at discrepancies
•Peace committee demands probe of electoral malfeasance
•Tinubu to president: don’t allow Obasanjo lure you into tainting your democratic credentials
Onyebuchi Ezigbo, Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja and James Sowole in Abeokuta
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo and the National Peace Committee led by former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar have faulted the manual transmission of election results by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), as against the electronic transmission which it ought to be.
Obasanjo, yesterday called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the INEC to quickly rectify observed gaps in the just-concluded presidential and National Assembly polls before the citizens’ pent-up anger and frustration burst forth in negative reactions.
In a statement he personally signed, the outspoken ex-president called for a rescheduling of elections in areas where there were confirmed cases of malpractice for next Saturday.
Relatedly, Abdulsalami Abubakar asked INEC to take note of the allegations of misconduct trailing the presidential election.
But in a swift response to Obasanjo’s call for cancelation of some of the polls, the presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, yesterday, advised Buhari not to allow Obasanjo lure him into staining his democratic credentials. Tinubu, in a statement by Special Adviser, Media, Communications and Public Affairs, APC Presidential Campaign Council (APC PCC), Dele Alake, urged Nigerians to reject Obasanjo’s dubious and hypocritical advice and stay strictly and firmly on the path of constitutionalism and democratic due process.
Obasanjo, who said he had personally spoken with Buhari on the issues, called for the setting up of an INEC committee, which would comprise the chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), to sort out all the grievances by Nigerians regarding the election with a view to resolving them.
The former president stated, “At this stage, we do not need wittingly or unwittingly to set this country on fire with the greed, irresponsibility and unpatriotic act of those who allegedly gave money to INEC officials for perversion and those who collected the blood money.
“Let me appeal to the chairman of INEC, if his hands are clean, to save Nigeria from the looming danger and disaster, which is just waiting to happen. If the chairman can postpone elections four days to the election, he can do everything to rectify the errors of the last two days — no Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), no result to be acceptable; and no upload through server, no result to be acceptable.
“Where BVAS and servers have been manipulated or rendered inactive, such results must be declared void and inadmissible for election declaration.”
Obasanjo stressed that he had thought the INEC chairman would use the opportunity of the latest polls to mend his reputation and character for posterity. He said, however, that it was not too late to rectify the anomalies.
He told Buhari, in the statement, “Your Excellency, President Buhari Muhammadu, tension is building up and, please, let all elections that do not pass the credibility and transparency test be cancelled and be brought back with areas where elections were disrupted for next Saturday, March 4, 2023, and BVAS and server officials be changed.”
Obasanjo noted that he was constrained to speak at this point to make Buhari aware of what was happening and the looming danger.
He stated, “On many occasions in the past, I have not hesitated to point out lacuna in the action of the president and his government. But as far as the election issues are concerned, the president has proved beyond reasonable doubt that he will want to leave a legacy of free, fair, transparent and credible elections.
“Until last Saturday night, February 25, 2023, the good and noble plan and preparation for the elections seemed to be going well. For (INEC), a lot of money was spent to introduce BVAS, and the server for immediate transmission of results from polling units.”
Obasanjo maintained that INEC officials at the operational level had been allegedly compromised to “make what should have worked not to work” and to revert to manual transmission of results, which were manipulated and doctored.
According to him, the chairman of INEC may claim ignorance but he cannot fold his arms and do nothing when he knows the election process has been corrupted and most of the results brought outside BVAS and tampered with are not a true reflection of the will of Nigerians who have made their choices.
He pointed out, “To know which stations or polling units were manipulated, let a committee of INEC staff and representatives of the four major political parties with the chairman of NBA look into what must be done to have hitch-free elections next Saturday.”
Obasanjo prayed that Buhari’s plan and hope of leaving a legacy of free, fair, transparent and credible election would be realised. He urged the president not to let anybody tell him that the problem did not matter or that it was the problem of INEC.
Obasanjo told Buhari, “On no account should you be seen as part of the collusion or compromise. When the die is cast, it will be your problem and that of the nation. The chairman of INEC may sneak out of the country or go back to his ivory tower.”
He enjoined Nigerians to exercise patience until the wrong was corrected, stressing that he strongly believes that nobody would toy with the future and fortune of Nigeria at this time.
Abdulsalami-led Peace Committee Demands Probe of Electoral Malfeasance
On his part, Abdulsalami asked INEC to pay attention to the allegations of malpractice trailing the election.
The National Peace Committee (NPC), which spearheaded the signing of a peace accord against violence and electoral malpractices, said INEC should take all the time it required to ensure that it delivered results that would inspire the confidence of the people and meet time tested international standards.
In a statement signed by the former head of state, the committee urged Nigerians to remain calm while the issues were being sorted out.
The statement, titled, “A Call for Calm: Please Give Peace and the Process a Chance,” the National Peace Committee also urged the security agencies to cooperate with INEC in their investigations of these weighty allegations.
The statement said, “We appeal to INEC to heed the grievances being expressed, to take the necessary steps to escalate investigations of all allegations of infractions and to ensure that justice is clearly done to all citizens who went out to vote.
“We have received reports of the culture of voter suppression manifested across the country through the application of targeted violence, disruption of processes, inducement of voters, intimidation, deliberate frustrations of voters and the challenges of the election equipment.”
Abdulsalami stated that there were, indeed, genuine cases of concern regarding the manner the presidential election was conducted in several parts of the country. The committee urged INEC to thoroughly investigate the complaints in order to engender the confidence of Nigerians.
The peace committee stated, “We are pleased that INEC has accepted these lapses and promised to rectify these lapses. We appeal to the security agencies to collaborate with INEC in their investigations of these weighty allegations. Concerns about the failures of the INEC Result Viewing Portals (IReV) across the country must be thoroughly investigated to ensure transparency.
“We commend Nigerians for turning out en masse to exercise their civic duty by voting in the February 25 elections. We took note of their patience, dignity and enthusiasm, which Nigerians lined up to vote despite observable challenges in the polling units.
“Along with millions of other Nigerians and the international community, we have followed developments since the commencement and end of the presidential and the National Assembly elections last Saturday.
“Not unexpectedly, the elections got on to a rather rocky start with the problems around logistics and accreditation processes across the country.
“On balance, despite these glitches, the elections were peaceful across most part of the country. However, now that the process of casting our votes has been largely concluded, the challenge now lies with the collation of the results. We perfectly understand that Nigerians are quite disturbed by these developments. Against this backdrop, we make the following appeals.
“Nigerians must be reminded that the world has invested a lot of goodwill towards us in these elections. We have taken note of the dissatisfaction among voters who braved all harsh weather elements to perform their civic duties. All citizens deserve to be rewarded by a process that ensures that their votes truly count.”
The NPC stated that in the spirit of the peace accord, which all candidates and their chairmen signed on February 23, 2023, it was appealing to all the presidential candidates and chairmen of parties to take full responsibility for statements made by their spokespersons and agents.
It said, “We appeal to all our citizens to remain calm while INEC continues with its process to its conclusion.
“Finally, let us all stand together trusting in the will of God, Allahu Subhanahu Wata’ala for our country.
“We appeal to INEC to take all the time it requires to ensure that it delivers results that inspire the confidence of our people and meet time tested international standards.”
Obasanjo’s Mischief, Hypocrisy on Display Again, Says Tinubu
Tinubu, in response to Obasanjo, stated that his attention was drawn to a press statement by the former president in which he was virtually calling “for a truncation of the ongoing electoral process and a cancellation of already conducted elections on the basis of frivolous, unfounded and baseless allegations by politicians who are sore losers and have no respect for democratic values.”
The APC presidential candidate said in the statement, “It is tragic that a former president who ought to be a statesman in comportment and speech will recklessly seek to endanger and derail our democratic process for utterly selfish, egoistic and malicious reasons.
“He offers not a single credible piece of evidence to prove his laughable and ridiculous allegations against INEC and the credibility of the ongoing process.
“Of course, we are all aware that Obasanjo is not an impartial and disinterested party as far as this election is concerned. On January 1, 2023, he had issued a characteristically lengthy epistle to Nigerians endorsing the candidacy of Mr. Peter Obi and asking Nigerian youths to vote en masse for him.”
Tinubu also stated, “Of course, our reaction was that the former president was entitled to his view and that the outcome of the elections would demonstrate if he had any electoral value.
“As fate would have it, Peter Obi was defeated even in Obasanjo’s own polling unit in Abeokuta in Ogun State. But it is now obvious that the only election Obasanjo will agree to being free, fair and credible is one that produces Obi as winner, which is ridiculous.
“Is Obasanjo also querying the outcome of the presidential elections in Lagos or Delta, where Obi won? If the outcome in Lagos won by Obi is free and credible, on what basis is he querying the outcome of the elections in other places? This is pure mischief and sheer hypocrisy. Obasanjo wants President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene in an undemocratic manner to truncate the ongoing political process just the way he did most shamelessness in the 2003 and 2007 elections widely described as the worst in our political history.
“Luckily, President Buhari is made of finer and more principled democratic stuff. He will not allow Obasanjo to lure him into tainting his democratic credentials in this regard. We recall that in his last trip to the United States, President Joe Biden praised Buhari‘s commitment to democratic values and principles. “Obasanjo has no such record to be applauded. The world has not forgotten his fraudulent and undemocratic attempt at a third term agenda in violation of the letter and spirit of the Nigerian constitution.
“This is an election in which Tinubu, for instance, has lost in Lagos State in his South-west region while Atiku and Obi have also won elections outside their own regional bases.
“No true democrat must seek an abortion of the process just because he believes the elections are not going his way. What Obasanjo is subtly calling for in his nefarious statement is a coup against democracy and the constitution. He should be roundly condemned and severely ignored.
“The constitution has stipulated processes for seeking redress against electoral malpractices in the past and these have been tested several times and used to redress electoral injustice where such has been proven.
“Nigerians must reject Obasanjo’s dubious and hypocritical advice and stay strictly and firmly on the path of constitutionalism and democratic due process.”
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