• Monday, February 26, 2024
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Presidency faults EU reports on 2023 general election

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The Presidency on Sunday urged the European Union (EU) and other foreign interests to be objective in all their assessments of the internal affairs of the country and “allow Nigeria to breathe.”

The Special Adviser to President Bola Tinubu on Special Duties, Communication and Strategy, Dele Alake, stated this, while reacting to the EU report on the 2023 general election.

Recall that the EU in their report, had identified key areas which they want INEC to improve upon in future elections, which they said was amongst others, marred by the absence of transparency.

In their assessment of the 2023 election, the EU listed areas of concerns, including the absence of transparency in the electoral process, the establishment of a publicly accountable process for the selection of the INEC officials and ambiguities in the nation’s electoral law.

They also urged INEC to work at ensuring the real-time publication of results as well as access to election results, protection for media practitioners, and decrying the discrimination against women in elective and appointed positions as well as impunity regarding electoral offences.

But Presidency, while reacting to the report on Sunday, recalled how sometimes in May, they had alerted the nation, through a press statement, to the plan by a continental multi-lateral institution to discredit the 2023 general election conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The Presidency said the main “target was the presidential election, clearly and fairly won by the then candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

“While we did not mention the name of the organisation in the said statement, we made it abundantly clear to Nigerians how this foreign institution had been unrelenting in its assault on the credibility of the electoral process, the sovereignty of our country and on our ability as a people to organise ourselves.”

Lampooning the EU over the report, the Presidency stated that it finds it “preposterous and unconscionable that in this day and age, any foreign organisation of whatever hue can continue to insist on its own yardstick and assessment as the only way to determine the credibility and transparency of our elections.

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“Now that the organisation has submitted what it claimed to be its final report on the elections, we can now categorically let Nigerians and the entire world know that we were not unaware of the machinations of the European Union to sustain its, largely, unfounded bias and claims on the election outcomes.”

Alake reiterated that the 2023 general elections, most especially the presidential election, won by President Bola Tinubu/All Progressives Congress, “were credible, peaceful, free, fair and the best organised general elections in Nigeria since 1999.”

He went further to insist that “there is no substantial evidence provided by the European Union or any foreign and local organisation that is viable enough to impeach the integrity of the 2023 election outcomes.

“It is worth restating that the limitation of EU final assessment and conclusions on our elections was made very bare in the text of the press conference addressed by the Head of its Electoral Observation Mission, Barry Andrews.

“While addressing journalists in Abuja on the so-called final report, Andrews noted that EU-EOM monitored the pre-election and post-election processes in Nigeria from January 11 to April 11, 2023 as an INEC accredited election monitoring group.”

Alake debunked the claims, adding that it was impossible for the election monitoring body to have effectively monitored the elections in the 36 states and FCT, given the strength of its manpower.

“Within this period, EU-EOM observed the elections through 11 Abuja-based analysts, and 40 election observers spread across 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. With the level of personnel deployed, which was barely an average of one person per state, we wonder how EU-EOM independently monitored election in over 176,000 polling units across Nigeria.

“We would like to know and even ask EU, how it reached the conclusions in the submitted final report with the very limited coverage of the elections by their observers who, without doubt, relied more on rumours, hearsay, cocktails of prejudiced and uninformed social media commentaries and opposition talking heads.

“We are convinced that what EU-EOM called final report on our recent elections is a product of a poorly done desk job that relied heavily on few instances of skirmishes in less than 1000 polling units out of over 176,000 where Nigerians voted on election day.

“We have many reasons to believe the jaundiced report, based on the views of fewer than 50 observers, was to merely sustain the same premature denunciatory stance contained in EU’s preliminary report released in March.

“We strongly reject, in its entirety, any notion and idea from any organisation, group and individual remotely suggesting that the 2023 election was fraudulent.

Presidency insisted that the earlier position that the technology-aided 2023 general elections were the most transparent and best organised elections since the return of civil rule in Nigeria has been validated by all non-partisan foreign and local observers such are the African Union, ECOWAS, Commonwealth Observer Mission and the Nigerian Bar Association.

“Unlike EU-EOM that deployed fewer than 50 observers, the Nigerian Bar Association that sent out over 1000 observers spread across the entire country for same election gave a more holistic and accurate assessment of the elections in their own report.

“NBA, an organisation of eminent lawyers and an important voice within the civic space, reported that 91.8 per cent of Nigerians rated the conduct of the national and state elections as credible and satisfactory. Any election that over 90% of the citizens considered transparent should be celebrated anywhere in the world.

Presidency also noted that it is heart-warming that INEC, through its National Commissioner for Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye, has come out to defend the integrity of the election it conducted by rejecting the false narratives in the EU report.

“It is also gratifying that the electoral umpire, as an institution that is open to learning and continuous improvements, has also committed to taking on board more ideas, innovation and reforms that will further enhance the integrity and credibility of our electoral process. As a country, we have put the elections behind us.

While noting that President Tinubu is facing the arduous task of nation-building, added that “those who have reasons to challenge the process continue to do so through the courts.

“In just one month in office, Nigerians appear satisfied with the decisive leadership of President Tinubu and the manner he is redirecting the country to the path of fiscal sustainability and socio-economic reforms,” he said.