Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi, the candidates for the People’s Democratic Party and the Labour Party in the 2023 election, have attacked President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for rejecting the European Union’s final report on the February 25 presidential election.
Recall that the EU mission presented its report on the general election in Abuja on Tuesday, June 27, 2023.
Barry Andrews, the chief observer, said the report was based on the analysis of compliance with Nigeria’s regional and international commitments for democratic elections.
Andrews faulted INEC for the operational challenges and glitches experienced with the bimodal voter accreditation system (BVAS) and the result viewing portal, saying the discrepancies severely damaged public confidence in the electoral body.
However, the federal government reacting to the report in a statement on Sunday issued by Dele Alake, special adviser to the president on special duties, communications and strategy, said the EU mission report is a poorly-done desk job.
The federal government said the EU mission had a limited coverage of the elections, adding that the organisation based its findings on rumours, social media commentaries and statements made by the opposition parties.
“Sometimes 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,” Alake said.
“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.
“EU-EOM observed the elections through 11 Abuja-based analysts, and 40 election observers spread across 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. With the level of personnel deployed, which was barely an average of one person per state, we wonder how EU-EOM independently monitored election in over 176,000 polling units across Nigeria.
“We would like to know and even ask EU, how it reached the conclusions in the submitted final report with the very limited coverage of the elections by their observers who, without doubt, relied more on rumours, hearsay, cocktails of prejudiced and uninformed social media commentaries and opposition talking heads.
“We are convinced that what EU-EOM called final report on our recent elections is a product of a poorly done desk job that relied heavily on few instances of skirmishes in less than 1000 polling units out of over 176,000 where Nigerians voted on election day. We have many reasons to believe the jaundiced report, based on the views of fewer than 50 observers, was to merely sustain the same premature denunciatory stance contained in EU’s preliminary report released in March.”
In his reaction, the Special Assistant to the former-Vice President on Public Communications, Mr. Phrank Shaibu, claimed that the EU’s final report on the elections of 2023 demonstrated that the results of the election were not a reflection of the desire of Nigerians who flocked to the polls to cast their ballots.
He criticised Alake and the Presidency for attempting to discredit the EU report.
Shaibu said: “Even primary school children who did not vote know that INEC failed woefully and that Tinubu rigged the last election. The presidential election was held on February 25, 2023 and yet as of July 2, 2023, the result of the election has not been fully uploaded. This is despite the fact that this election was the most expensive in the history of West African politics.
“How can an election in which the full results have not been fully uploaded after nearly five months be described as credible by any sane human being?”
“The EU not only provided training for INEC staff but also donated equipment only for INEC to conduct a shambolic poll. So why would Alake claim that the EU has no right to speak when it was the largest single donor to INEC? Mr Alake should rather be quiet rather than try to defend the indefensible,” he noted.
In his own statement, acting National Publicity Secretary of the Labour Party, Obiora Ifoh, described the Federal Government’s response to the EU report as ‘medicine after death.’
Ifoh said: “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 medicine after death. Even the blind can see, the deaf can hear and they know this election was manipulated. Without sounding immodest, evidence was given at the tribunal, as you are aware.
“Whatever thing the FG is saying clearly shows that INEC is not in any way independent. It is at the whims and caprices of the government and we know it. But Nigerians are hoping that the tribunal will right the wrong by correcting it. That’s where we stand.
“So there is no need to defend the integrity of INEC. Nigerians already know the winner. It is very clear even from the evidence before the tribunal.”