2023 GOVERNORSHIP AND
STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS
Presidency dismisses EU report on 2023 Elections, as LP, CSOs concur with findings
The critical report of the European Union Observer Mission (EUOM) in the 2023 general elections has caused divergent reactions from the presidency, the Labour Party and civil society organisations in Nigeria.
While the presidency has faulted the EU report, the Labour Party agrees with its conclusions and has accused government officials of trying to save face.
The CSOs, on their part, said that rather than the government denouncing the EU report, they should take the recommendations, adding that with over 1000 election litigation cases, there were gaps in the electoral process.
The EU had pointed out flaws it observed in the conduct of the elections and recommended some key areas that needed to be addressed by INEC going forward to ensure credible elections.
It also stated that the process leading to the outcome of the presidential election left questions about its credibility and eroded the confidence of the masses.
But reacting to the report, the presidency vehemently dismissed the conclusions drawn by the EU team regarding the 2023 general elections.
Special adviser on communications, strategy and special duties to President Bola Tinubu, Dele Alake, in a statement yesterday expressed strong objections to what he described as the EU’s alleged attempts to discredit the elections conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Alake emphasized that the presidential election, won by the All Progressives Congress’ (APC) candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, was transparent, fair, and the most well-organised since Nigeria’s transition to civil rule in 1999.
He said, “Sometime in May, we alerted the nation, through a press statement, to the plan by a continental multi-lateral institution to discredit the 2023 general elections conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
“The main target was the presidential election, clearly and fairly won by the then candidate of 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.”
According to Alake, it is unacceptable that in this day and age, a foreign organisation will continue to insist on its own yardstick for assessing the credibility or otherwise of the nation’s elections.
He went on: “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.”
The presidential spokesman insisted that the 2023 general elections, 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, adding that the EU did not provide any substantial evidence to impeach the integrity of the 2023 election outcomes.
He criticised the limited scope of the EU’s assessment, highlighting the fact that their observers monitored the elections through only 11 analysts based in Abuja and 40 observers spread across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
Alake questioned the credibility of the EU’s conclusions, given their limited coverage of the vast number of polling units, which amounted to over 176,000 across Nigeria.
Alake expressed doubts about the EU’s independence and suggested that their report relied more on rumours, uninformed social media commentaries, and opposition talking heads.
He argued that the EU’s final report seemed to sustain the same biased stance as their preliminary report released in March, casting doubts on its objectivity.
He firmly rejected any insinuation or claim suggesting that the 2023 elections were fraudulent.
Alake emphasized that numerous non-partisan foreign and local observers, including the African Union, ECOWAS, Commonwealth Observer Mission, and the Nigerian Bar Association, had validated the credibility and transparency of the elections.
Alake highlighted the comprehensive report by the Nigerian Bar Association, which deployed over 1,000 observers throughout the country. According to their assessment, 91.8% of Nigerians rated the conduct of the national and state elections as credible and satisfactory.
He stressed that such overwhelming citizen satisfaction should be celebrated worldwide and commended the INEC for defending the integrity of the election and rejecting the false narratives presented in the EU report.
“It is heart-warming that INEC, through its national commissioner for Information and Voter Education, Mr. Festus Okoye, has come out to defend the integrity of the election it conducted by rejecting the false narratives in the EU report,” he said .
He called upon the EU and other foreign interests to approach their assessments of Nigeria’s internal affairs with objectivity, and allow the country to move forward without undue interference.
CSOs, Labour Party Agree With EU
Meanwhile, the CSOs which spoke to LEADERSHIP are Transparency International (TI), the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), and the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG).
Speaking through their leader, Awwal Musa Rafsanjani, the CSOs said the EU report was not different from those of local observers.
Noting that the EU officials were in the country months before the general elections, he said the report was not manufactured.
“Before the EU made their observation and submitted their report to INEC, local observers, especially CSOs that observed the election, noticed some gaps. The EU is just reinforcing what the local observers have already said.
“The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the government should look at the recommendations of the EU and take them.
“If they dismiss the observations, it means they are not ready to address the gaps. That is why we will continue to appreciate the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua who accepted there were gaps in the election that brought him to power and promised to fix them by setting up a committee with credible Nigerians heading it.
“INEC and the Tinubu government knew that there were issues in the 2019 general elections. We have over 1000 court cases. If the election had no problem, there wouldn’t have been such court cases,” Rafsanjani said.
He advised the government and INEC to study the CSOs and the EU reports and make amendments; if not, Nigerians may not want to participate in future elections.
Rafsanjani went on: “The EU did not sit in their countries to write the report. They were in the country months before the election. It is not the first time the EU is releasing a report of Nigeria’s election and giving out recommendations. Why is the government not accepting this report and the recommendations?
“They need to read the report very well, look at the recommendation and make amendments that will make the elections more credible,” Rafsanjani said.
On his part, the national chairman of the Inter-party Advisory Council (IPAC), the umbrella body of all political parties in Nigeria, Yabagi Sani, said the court will decide whether the election was credible or not.
“If you remember, the EU came through an invitation of the government to observe the elections. They submitted a report of what they saw and how they understood it.
“Government has the right to say what they want to say. What holds water is what the court will say.
“Everyone can say his opinion. We will hear what the tribunal will say. If it gets to the Supreme Court, we will hear what the Supreme Court will say, then we take it from there,” Sani said.
Meanwhile, the Labour Party has said that the government is just trying to cover its face from what it described as the shame from the last election.
The Labour Party noted with dismay the statement by the federal government discrediting the European Union’s conclusions on the 2023 general election wherein it faulted the modalities by which the conclusion was reached.
According to the national publicity secretary of the party, Obiora Ifoh, the party sees this rejection of the EU report as face-saving measure by the federal government days after the submission of the report as feeble and medicine after death.
“It will interest the government to note that the European Union’s report is only one out of numerous submissions by other international observers which have described the outcome of the election as a sham and an exercise that did not reflect the will of the majority of Nigerians.
He said: “The Labour Party stands by the position of the EU observation mission. We have always said that this election was massively rigged in favour of the APC and their candidate.
“What the FG is saying is just an afterthought and a shameless effort to mask the obvious. Even the blind can see, the deaf can hear and they know this election was manipulated.
“Huge pieces of evidence abound for even the deaf and the blind to hear and feel.
“We are only hoping that the judiciary will dispense justice without fear or favour in the interest of the nation and posterity. Nigerians already know the true winner of the 2023 presidential election and no amount of slandering, denial, or rebuttal can change the fact that the party in power does not have the mandate of the electorate.”
Ifoh noted that INEC is in active connivance with the federal government to deny the electorate and it clearly shows that INEC is not in any way independent.
“The Commission’s action is at the whims and caprices of the government and we know it. But Nigerians are looking to the Judiciary for justice. That’s where we stand,” he concluded.
Contents provided and/or opinions expressed here do not reflect the opinions of The Pacesetter Frontier Magazine or any employee thereof.
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