We are glad to note the continued build-up of keen interest by the international community in our forthcoming polls, particularly the need for their free and fair conduct to ensure only the genuine mandate of the Nigerian electorate prevails.
In November 2018, 24 countries drawn from the European Union, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia issued a joint statement calling for a free and fair conduct of the polls. It reads in part: “Who wins the elections is for the Nigerian people to decide.
“Our concern is to see a process leading to free, fair, transparent and peaceful elections. We hope to see transparent campaigns and we urge all voters to use their democratic rights and vote. We are particularly keen to see greater participation of women, youth and people living with disabilities.”
As recently as January 24, 2019, the US and UK threatened not to issue visas to those identified for abetting election-rigging. The US warned: “We and other democratic nations will be paying close attention to actions of individuals who interfere in the democratic process or instigate violence against the civilian population before, during and after the elections.”
US laws stipulate visa restrictions against election offenders and their family members. Though the Federal Government says it welcomes threats to deny visas to election riggers, it however, warned it would not tolerate foreign interference. President Muhammadu Buhari, his main challenger, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and other presidential candidates have already signed an undertaking to accept the outcome of the elections, though the opposition insists they must be free and fair.
We understand and welcome the interest of the international community in our 2019 general elections. This is important in view of the President’s refusal to sign the Electoral Amendment Bill, the deployment of the Army nationwide on the eve of the elections, the controversies over the appointment and deployment of certain personnel within the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen without following the constitutional process and the growing incidence of vote-buying among political gladiators.
We welcome the influx of international observer groups, though we insist they must not interfere in the conduct of the polls. They should strictly monitor the elections to ensure that whoever wins will enjoy legitimacy within Nigeria and in the international community. Those who steal the people’s mandate should be made to pay dearly for it as former Ivorian President, Laurent Gbagbo, did.
Rigged elections can easily spark war. Nigeria with its huge population cannot afford that. The African continent and world cannot afford Nigeria reduced to cinders like Syria, Iraq and Libya.
Riggers of the 2019 general elections must have nowhere to hide.