The Federal Government has advised former President Olusegun Obasanjo not to shorten the 2023 general elections with his inciting, self-serving, and aggressive letter.
In an address to President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday, Obasanjo warned of an attempt to subvert the decision of the people in the presidential election on Saturday.
In response, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, issued a statement in Abuja on Tuesday, claiming that the former president’s ‘appeal for caution and correction’ was nothing more than a calculated attempt to undermine the electoral process and a deliberate incitement to violence.
The Minister expressed amazement and disbelief that an ex-president “could spread unsubstantiated assertions and promote street-level complaints against the democratic process.”
The minister stated, “While acting as an impartial and concerned elder statesman, former President Obasanjo is in reality a well-known partisan bent on obstructing millions of Nigerian voters’ choice through deceit.”
Alhaji Mohammed recalled that the former President, during his tenure, organized arguably the worst election since Nigeria’s return to democratic rule in 1999; therefore, he is the least qualified to advise a President whose efforts to leave a legacy of free, fair, credible, and transparent elections are widely recognized both inside and outside Nigeria.
“While the nation waits with bated breath for the results of Saturday’s national elections, amid unneeded anxiety produced by professional complainants and political clowns, it is expected of a self-respecting elder statesman to utilize words and acts that defuse tension and act as a soothing balm.
“Instead, former President Obasanjo used his unsolicited letter to imply, or perhaps wish for, an inconclusive election and a descent into anarchy; used his time to cast aspersions on electoral officials who are unable to defend themselves, while covertly attempting to dress his personal choice in the garb of the people’s choice. This is dishonest, he said.
The Minister reminded the former president that staging elections in Nigeria is no easy task, given that the country’s voter population of 93,469,008 is 16,742,916 higher than the total number of registered voters in all 14 West African countries, which is 76,722,092.
With the deployment of over 1,265,227 electoral officials, the incorporation of technology to enhance the electoral process, and the logistical nightmare of sending election materials across our vast country, INEC appears to be performing creditably, according to the preliminary reports of the ECOWAS Electoral Observation Mission and the Commonwealth Observer Group, among other groups that monitored the election.
“Therefore, those who assume the authority to cancel an election and unilaterally set a date for a new one, ostensibly to remedy perceived electoral infractions, should exercise restraint and allow the official electoral body to complete its duty by announcing the results of the national elections of 2023.
“Thereafter, anyone who is aggrieved must follow the prescribed legal process established to arbitrate electoral disputes, rather than threatening fire and predicting the end of the world,” he stated.
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