FG replies, cautions Obasanjo against truncating electoral process

Federal Government has cautioned former President Olusegun Obasanjo not to truncate the 2023 general elections, following a recent letter he wrote concerning the polls .
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed

Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed
• Ignore insincere, ill-motivated advise, Bamidele, Bajowa urge Nigerians

Federal Government has cautioned former President Olusegun Obasanjo not to truncate the 2023 general elections, following a recent letter he wrote concerning the polls .
In a statement in Abuja, yesterday, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said what the former President cunningly framed as an “appeal for caution and rectification” was nothing but a calculated attempt to undermine the electoral process and a willful incitement to violence.

Mohammed said although Obasanjo masqueraded as an unbiased and concerned elder statesman, he is, in reality, a known partisan who is bent on thwarting, by subterfuge, the choice of millions of Nigerian voters.

The minister expressed shock and disbelief that a former President could throw around unverified claims and amplify wild allegations picked up from the street against the electoral process.

He said the former President, in his time, organised, perhaps, the worst election since Nigeria’s return to democratic rule in 1999, hence he is the least qualified to advise a President whose determined effort to leave a legacy of free, fair, credible and transparent election is well acknowledged within and outside Nigeria.

He said: “As the whole nation waits with bated breath for the result of last Saturday’s national elections, amid unnecessary tension created by professional complainants and political jesters, what is expected from a self-respecting elder statesman are words and actions that douse tension and serve as a soothing balm.

“Instead, former President Obasanjo used his unsolicited letter to insinuate, or perhaps wish for, an inconclusive election and descent into anarchy; used his time to cast aspersion on electoral officials who are unable to defend themselves, while surreptitiously seeking to dress his personal choice in the garb of the people’s choice. This is duplicitous. ”

The minister reminded the former President that organising elections in Nigeria is not a mean feat. According to him, “with a deployment of over 1,265,227 electoral officials, the infusion of technology to enhance the electoral process, and the logistical nightmare of sending election materials across our vast country, INEC seems to be availing itself creditably, going by the preliminary reports of the ECOWAS Electoral Observation Mission and the Commonwealth Observer Group, among other groups that observed the election.

‘’Therefore, those arrogating to themselves the power to cancel an election and unilaterally fix a date for a new one, ostensibly to ameliorate perceived electoral infractions, should please exercise restraint and allow the official electoral body to conclude its duty by announcing the results of the 2023 national elections.
‘’After that, anyone who is aggrieved must follow the stipulated legal process put in place to adjudicate electoral disputes, instead of threatening fire and conjuring apocalypse.”

Also, a retired General in the Nigerian Army, Olu Bajowa, advised President Muhammadu Buhari “not to be deterred by anti-democratic voices making the rounds and not be swayed, deceived or persuaded to allow anyone destroy his worthy legacy of excellent service to our great nation.”

In a letter, in reaction to Obasanjo’s correspondence, Bajowa said: “It is very sad, most disheartening and grossly unexpected that a man of the calibre of a former military Head of State and two-time civilian President, General Olusegun Obasanjo, could contemplate anything that could truncate Nigeria’s democratic process at this very crucial stage.”

He said: “Without any attempt to undermine Obasanjo, I believe that his intentions on the 2023 electoral process are far from being sincere, given the fact that he openly endorsed a particular candidate, who, incidentally, is not leading the polls, as already announced by INEC.

“As the saying goes, ‘he who must come to equity must come with clean hands’. Hence, it is obvious that having endorsed a candidate, Obasanjo’s hands are not clean in this instance, and he lacks the moral right to come to equity.”  

Bajowa argued: The official release of results, so far, showed that President Buhari lost Katsina, Bola Tinubu lost Lagos, El-Rufai lost Kaduna, Ganduje lost Kano, Lalong lost Plateau. All these states are strongholds of the ruling political party! How else can a process be free, fair, and transparent?”

The retired General called on “all well-meaning Nigerians across political parties, tribes and religion to rise and condemn any attempt by any persons of sinister motives, to create problems for our country, leading to anarchy that could endanger peace, unity, and stability, and even disintegration of the country.” 

He added: “Nigeria is not a lawless country. The Constitution is clear on who should conduct elections, and there are provisions for review on irregularities. The law does not make any provision for unilateral cancellation or annulment of election results. Such move is totally wrong, undemocratic, unacceptable, and unconstitutional.” 

Similarly, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, urged Nigerians to disregard the ill-motivated advice by Obasanjo.

In a statement issued by his media office, yesterday, Bamidele said the sudden call on INEC to cancel the presidential elections and halt ongoing collation of results is a deliberate attempt to truncate Nigeria’s democracy.

He said: “Obasanjo’s unsolicited reactionary posturing on the just-concluded presidential election is characteristic of his anti-democratic and subversive tendencies which he had displayed on several occasions over the years.

“This is the same Obasanjo who publicly adopted Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of Labour Party, and urged Nigerians to vote for him. Unfortunately, Peter Obi lost woefully in the polling unit, right in front of his (Obasanjo’s) house in Abeokuta.

“Apparently, Obasanjo is jittery because of the outcome of the election, which invariably may not be in the favour of his adopted candidate. He is a bad loser.”

Bamidele said it is ridiculous and highly disheartening for Obasanjo to question the credibility of an election where many sitting governors, senators and members of the House of Representatives failed to win National Assembly elections in their respective states and where the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress did not win in Lagos State, his political stronghold.

He, therefore, called on Nigerians and lovers of democracy not to keep silent in the face of Obasanjo’s letter, urging them to rise up to defend the sanctity of Nigeria’s democracy and the constitutionality of the just concluded presidential and National Assembly elections.

He added that Nigerians must condemn the unjust, undignified, undemocratic and unpopular interjection of Obasanjo in the ongoing electoral process.

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