The Federal Government has urged former President Olusegun Obasanjo not to truncate the 2023 General Elections with “his inciting, self-serving and provocative letter on the elections.”
Obasanjo had in an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday titled “Appeal for Caution and Rectification”, urged him to intervene in the controversy surrounding the failure of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to upload results of Saturday’s presidential election to its dedicated portal for public viewing by calling for cancellation of results where elections “do not pass the credibility and transparency” test and fix March 4 for re-election.
The former president said Buhari and the INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, must immediately act to quell the tension that is already “building up” as a result of INEC’s alleged compromise in the polls.
Reacting to Obasanjo’s letter in a statement on Tuesday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, through the Special Assistant to the President (Media), Segun Adeyemi, said what the former President framed as an ‘appeal for caution and rectification’ is nothing but a calculated attempt to undermine the electoral process and a willful incitement to violence.
”Though masquerading as an unbiased and concerned elder statesman, former President Obasanjo is in reality a known partisan who is bent on thwarting, by subterfuge, the choice of millions of Nigerian voters,” he said.
Mohammed stated that while in office as president, Obasanjo organized probably one the worst election since Nigeria’s return to democratic rule in 1999, and for that reason, he is the least qualified to advise Buhari on leaving a legacy of free, fair, credible and transparent election.
”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 dousetension and serve as a soothing balm.
”Instead, former President Obasanjo used his unsolicited letter to insinuate, or perhaps wish for, an inconclusive election and a descent into anarchy; used his time to cast aspersion on electoral officials who are unable to defend themselves, while surreptitiously seeking todress his personal choice in the garb of the people’s choice. This is duplicitous,” he said.
The Minister reminded the former President that organizing elections in Nigeria is not a mean feat, considering that the voter population of 93,469,008 in the country is 16,742,916 more than the total number of registered voters, at 76,726,092, in 14 West African nations put together.
”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,” he said.