- Insists on election free of ‘intimidation’
- Oshiomhole: Foreign missions believing PDP’s lies
Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa and Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The Consul General of the United States to Nigeria, Ambassador John Bay, Thursday said the United States has no presidential candidate but was only interested in free, fair and credible elections in the country.
The United States Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, has also called on the federal government and political leaders, including the military to ensure that the February 16 presidential election is free of “intimidation.”
This came as the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, said the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has succeeded in hoodwinking the international community to believe the series of unsubstantiated allegations and misleading comments it is making against the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and President Muhammadu Buhari.
Bay, who restated the commitment of the US to violence-free electoral process, insisted the US was not supporting any candidate in the February 16 presidential election in the country.
A statement by the Special Adviser to the Governor òf Bayelsa State on Media Relations Fidelis Soriwei, quoted the US Consul General to have made the comment while paying a courtesy call on the governor at the Government House, Yenagoa, yesterday evening.
The American envoy noted that his delegation was on a tour to the southern states in the country to interface with civil society organisiations, traditional rulers and other political stakeholders on the need for peaceful conduct before, during and after the elections.
He said: “The US does not have a candidate in this election. We are looking for a free, fair, credible and peaceful process, a process that allows the choice of the Nigerian citizens to come through.
“So, we are going to spend some time with the governor and chat about different things we might be able to do to better the situation and anything we can do to help before leaving here for Port Harcourt tomorrow.”
Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson commended the efforts of the International community to peaceful, free, fair and credible elections in the country.
The governor commended the United States and other members of the international community for living up to expectations by taking proactive measures to forestall breakdown of law and order as well as strengthening the electoral process.
“We want to thank the US Mission in Nigeria for your services, contributions and for the building of peace as well as promotion of our nation’s democracy.
“We also want to thank you for always thinking of us and caring about what is going on here in the Niger Delta.
“I have read about the statements made by your Mission and other international partners concerning the forthcoming general elections. For me and our state, we welcome these interventions. We believe that our country is and should be a responsible member of the international community.
“As practicing politicians, all of us should conduct the politics and affairs of our country in such a way as to respect the due processes of the law and the elections so that in the end, what we do and say should continue to promote peace and stability in various comunities across the country.
“Nigeria is a critical member of the world community. It is the largest and most populous black nation in the world.
“So, what goes on in Nigeria should rightly be of interest to the rest of the world; and the world is right by not standing by to watch things go bad in Nigeria.”
Meanwhile, the United States Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, has also called on the federal government and political leaders, including the military to ensure that the February 16 presidential election is free of “intimidation.”
“The United States government supports a free, fair, transparent and peaceful election that reflects the will of the Nigerian people,” Pompeo said in a statement sent to Per Second News yesterday.
“Nigerian security services must provide a safe and secure environment for the Nigerian people to exercise their rights. Those who interfere in the electoral process or incite violence must be held to account,” he said.
The Secretary of State said the election offered “an opportunity for Nigeria to solidify its place as a democratic leader in Africa.”
In a related development, the National Chairman of APC, Oshiomhole, has said the PDP has succeeded in hoodwinking the international community to believe the series of unsubstantiated allegations and misleading comments it is making against the ruling APC and President Buhari.
The ruling party has also stated that the main opposition party has failed in its attempt to demonise the President Buhari administration and in deploying intimidation and blackmail tactics against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and other state institutions ahead of the general election.
APC said the PDP is troubled by the fact that imminent defeat awaits it in the coming poll.
A statement signed by Oshiomhole’s Chief Press Secretary, Simon Ebegbulem said the APC chairman spoke when he hosted members of the ECOWAS Election Monitoring Team, led by former President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
According to the national chairman, while APC is committed to a peaceful election, the opposition’s language and utterances does not suggest that they want a free and fair election.
He said such antics of the main opposition party constitute a major threat to the forthcoming 2019 general election.
Oshiomhole said the reason PDP is doing what they are doing is because they knew they have lost the elections.
He said the opposition party was overwhelmed by the kind of support President Buhari has been enjoying so far in his campaigns.
“The opposition are now in the habit of waking up and making unsubstantiated allegations just to deceive members of the International community.
“Unfortunately, you see some foreign missions believing their lies and issuing statements in support of the PDP. And, that is why some of us are worried that some persons are hiding under the guise of Election Observers to come and discredit our electoral process and also interfere in our elections and our judicial process,” he said
Oshiomhole made reference to the condemnations that trailed the suspension of the country’s Chief Justice, Walter Onnoghen, saying the international community bought into the wrong impression created by the PDP.
“We observed that on the issue of the Chief Justice of Nigeria. This is a judicial officer who agreed that he erred when he did not declare some of his assets. And we have a situation whereby huge amount of foreign currencies were found in different accounts. And the PDP became the mouth piece of the CJN and they created a wrong impression before the International Community, and we saw joint statements condemning the action of the President, who was acting on the recommendation made by the Code of Conduct Bureau.
“Are you saying that if a crime is conducted on election day, and because it was an election day, the person concerned should not face the law? The President of America today is being investigated over allegation of alleged Russian interference in America election. So, I think all these unsubstantiated allegations are not good for the forthcoming general elections and that is why we believe that the PDP, knowing fully well that they will be rejected by the people at the polls, are trying to create crisis where there is none,” he said.
Meanwhile, in a separate statement APC said PDP has failed in its attempt to demonise the President Buhari’s administration and in deploying intimidation and blackmail tactics against INEC and other state institutions ahead of the general election.
In the statement issued by the APC National Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, the party said the PDP’s actions cannot affect President Buhari’s emphatic victory in the February 16 election.
“We have watched how panicky leaders of the PDP have become, having realised that they are heading for a crushing and humiliating defeat in the forthcoming general election.
“In their confused and pitiable state, they have unconscionably hurled pedestrian allegations of partisanship and partiality against INEC and other state institutions,” it said.
APC said the strategy of the PDP leaders is to regularly call out INEC and allege partiality towards the APC, thereby creating doubts in the minds of Nigerians and international community about the independence and credibility of the electoral body.
“This is one of the odious antics of a desperate party that wants to hijack presidential power, not on the strength of having a credible alternative, but on the strength of selfish propaganda with which they mask their real motivation for seeking a return to power — plundering of the public treasury,” it said.
APC also said it is shocked by the PDP’s allegation that the distribution of Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) is being hampered by INEC to disenfranchise its supporters.
“How could anyone have known the political party affiliations of those who are yet to collect their PVCs such that the process of disenfrachising them was activated by INEC to favour the APC?” Issa-Onilu queried in the statement.
Onilu said APC is confident that Nigerians will renew its mandate on the basis of verifiable and multi-sector record of performance under the leadership of President Buhari.