Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The Federal government has assured that the forthcoming elections in the country will not fall short of anything free, fair and credible.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, gave the government’s assurance in Abuja when he received in audience, the Chief Observer, European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) to Nigeria for the 2019 general elections, Maria Arena.
Onyeama said the process towards the election had been challenging, but the government is on top of it.
He added that President Muhammadu Buhari had been announcing in every forum which including the Hague, during the 20th anniversary of the inauguration of the International Criminal Court, the African Union and in all his bilateral meetings with global leaders that he was doing everything within his power to ensure free, fair and credible elections.
“And he is investing his whole reputation and everything in that. And he has been at the receiving end of what we believe to have been unfair elections in the past and he does not want to have elections that can in any way be criticised under his watch.
“So, he is particularly keen that everything should be done to ensure that they really are free, fair and credible,” Onyeama said.
Onyeama recalled the security challenges that the country has been going through, adding that every effort is being made to ensure that the elections take place in a secure environment.
He also said that the government is putting everything in place to ensure that participants in the elections do so, feeling comfortable and in no way, intimidated and given every opportunity to exercise their choice very freely.
“So, that is really something that Mr President is sparing no resource to achieve. It is a huge country, of course, as you know. And there will always be challenges; logistic challenges and so on and so forth.
“I think that you really can be assured that as far as the president and his team governed, that we really are doing everything possible and we thank very much, the European Union for sending this observer mission and we will put everything at your disposal so that you can very freely speak to whoever you want, go wherever you want and also make your comments, observations and we are very willing to take advice from our friends.
“We have excellent relations with the EU and we thank you very much for all your cooperation and of course, for your concern,” Onyeama added.
Onyeama further said President Buhari being the Chairperson of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Authority of Heads of State and Government, Nigeria is very proud that the sub-region in every member state, has a democratically-elected government.
“And we have gone to great length to ensure that is maintained. A couple of years ago when it looked as if there might be an exception in the Gambia, we were very keen and Mr President actually directed the efforts that led to the very quick restoration of the democratic process in that country and the expression of the will of the people,” Onyeama also said.
He further recalled President Buhari’s intervention in some countries in the sub-region where there had also been challenges to the democratic institutions.
“I went to Guinea Bissau where we are very engaged with them again to enthrone democracy and good governance in that country, ditto with Mali after the elections there, Togo as well,” Onyeama stated.
Onyeama concluded by saying that the background was necessary to show that the government of President Buhari is interested in practising what it has been preaching to others.
Responding, Arena said it was really important for Europe to monitor the elections because Nigeria is really an important country to Europe.
She explained that she had also had similar experiences within the West African sub-region having monitored elections in the Gambia and Liberia.
“We, of course, are 40-long term observers in the country. They are deployed today in all the regions.
“So, I think it is important to have this covering all the regions because it is a very huge country and with specificity in the country, so it is important to be in all the regions,” Arena said.
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