BY BRIGHT JACOB
The Federal Government has rejected the final report of the European Union election observation mission in Nigeria on the 2023 general elections.
The EU mission had last week presented its report on the 2023 general elections in Abuja.
Barry Andrews, the EU Chief Observer, said the report was based on the analysis of compliance with Nigeria’s regional and international commitments for democratic elections.
The observation team said the elections exposed enduring systemic weaknesses that needed to be corrected.
But the Special Adviser to President Bola Tinubu on Special Duties, Communications and Strategy, Dele Alake, in a statement on Sunday expressed strong objections to the EU’s alleged attempts to discredit the elections conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
Alake emphasized that the presidential election, won by the All Progressives Congress candidate, President Bola Tinubu, was transparent, fair and well-organised since Nigeria’s transition to civil rule in 1999, describing the EU mission report as a poorly-done desk job.
“Sometimes in May, we alerted the nation, through a press statement, to the plan by a continental multilateral 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.
“We find it preposterous and unconscionable that in this day and age, any foreign organisation of whatever hue can continue to insist on its own yardstick and assessment as the only way to determine the credibility and transparency of our elections.
“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.
“For emphasis, we want to reiterate that the 2023 general elections, most 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.
“There is no substantial evidence provided by the European Union or any foreign and local organisation that is viable enough to impeach the integrity of the 2023 election outcomes,” Alake said.
The presidential aide 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.
He also expressed doubts about the EU’s independence and suggested that their report relied more on rumours, uninformed social media commentaries and opposition talking heads.
Alake 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, stressing 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 said.
He stressed that such overwhelming citizen satisfaction should be celebrated worldwide and commended INEC for defending the integrity of the election.
“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 also acknowledged INEC’s commitment to embracing ideas, innovations, and reforms aimed at further enhancing the integrity and credibility of the electoral process.
With the elections concluded, Alake said Tinubu is now focused on the arduous task of nation-building.
He said despite ongoing legal challenges, Nigerians have expressed satisfaction with President Tinubu’s decisive leadership and his efforts to redirect the country towards fiscal sustainability and socio-economic reforms within just one month in office.
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.
“As a country, we have put the elections behind us. President Tinubu is facing the arduous task of nation-building, while those who have reasons to challenge the process continue to do so through the courts.
“In just one month in office, Nigerians appear satisfied with the decisive leadership of President Tinubu and the manner he is redirecting the country to the path of fiscal sustainability and socio-economic reforms.
“We urge the EU and other foreign interests to be objective in all their assessments of the internal affairs of our country and allow Nigeria to breathe,” he added.