Southern, Middle Belt Leaders Write Buhari, Say Uneasy Calm in Country

Chuks Okocha in Abuja

Leaders from Southern Nigeria and the Middle Belt have called the attention of President Muhammadu Buhari to what they described as uneasy calm and uncertainty that have since trailed the outcome of the February 25, 2023 presidential election in the country.

The leaders made some serious observations in a letter titled: ‘Post-2023 Presidential Election and State of the Nation, signed  by the leader of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, Chief Edwin Clark, the Afenifere leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, President, Middle Belt Forum, Dr. Pogu Bitrus, His Excellency, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, a former Governor of Anambra State, and Secretary General of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Ambassador Okey Emuchay,

The prominent Nigerians noted that the 2023 presidential election was considered fraudulent by various groups and youths, who participated in the election.
They further stated that many foreign observers were of the position that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), failed to meet the expectations of Nigerians, and did not adhere to the Electoral Act 2022 and its own guidelines in the conduct of the poll
They lamented that INEC performed woefully in spite of the huge amount of tax payers’ money given to it and its promises of free, fair and credible elections to Nigeria.

They noted that Nigeria would have been under serious tension if not for the appeals by the presidential candidate of the Labour Party in the election, Mr. Peter Obi, and members of the group and prominent Nigerians across the country.
They, however, blamed Buhari for alleged violation of the electoral 2022, when he displayed his ballot paper to the public in Daura on February 25, shortly after voting.

The group faulted a statement by the presidency, signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Shehu Garba, that Buhari would hand over to the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, who was declared winner in the election.

They noted that there would not be another June 12  as the President has no powers to annul any election in a democracy.
They urged the President to give the deserved attention to the pertinent issues they raised about the state of the nation “not only in the interest of Nigeria’s unity and stability, but the sustenance of our democratic journey as well.”
The group urged the president to allow the Judiciary to do its job, without interferences, and relieve Nigeria from any political crisis, warning that, “If you can hear the hissing of a snake, don’t complain when you are bitten.”

They equally faulted the curious swiftness with which INEC approached the Court of Appeal to ‘reconfigure’  the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machines used for the conduct of the February 25 Presidential Election, contrary to experts opinion that, “the BVAS devices need not necessarily be reconfigured before holding the Governorship and House of Assembly Elections.”

Their other observations included that, “The cunning manner in which INEC rescheduled the Governorship and State House of Assembly elections earlier scheduled for today, March 11, few hours after securing the relieve they sought from the Court of Appeal, Abuja; and the seeming reluctance of INEC to timeously allow lawyers of the presidential candidate of Labour Party access to inspect and obtain essential materials used across Nigeria for the conduct of the February 25 Presidential election, despite an Order of the Court of Appeal to that effect.”

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