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Fears Over Obasanjo’s Link With Foreign Poll Observers

Posted by:- || Date:- February 14, 2019 || Time:- 11:29 am || Under:- Local News || Tags:-

There is anxiety in political circles over the composition of some of the international observer missions deployed in the country for the general elections. The presidential election is slated for Saturday.

popular thinking is that former President Olusegun Obasanjo may have
been influential to the composition and emergence of some of the
chairmen of some of the observer groups.

The ex-President, who is
backing former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, is suspected to have sold
an agenda to these observers, based on a perception of what a source
described as a “willy-nilly” regime change.

Some of the groups
are suspected to be in the country to “work to the answer” by prejudging
the election as “not free, fair and credible” — a perception that has
been debunked.

But it was gathered that the Federal Government is “paying keen interest” to their activities.

Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has accredited 144
observer groups, including 116 domestic and 28 international teams.

foreign groups are: African Bar Association; African Parliament of
The Civil Society; African Union; British High Commission; Democrat
Union of Africa; ECOWAS; Elections Cameroon, Republic of Cameroon; and
the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa.

are also Embassy of France; Embassy of Japan; Embassy of the Arab
Republic of Egypt; Embassy of The Republic of Korea; European Centre for
Electoral Support; European Union; German International Agency; High
Commission of Canada; and the International Foundation For Electoral

The International Human Rights Commission; International
Peace Commission; International Republican Institute; the National
Democratic Institute; the Network for Solidarity; and the Empowerment
and Transformation for All were also accredited to cover the elections.

international observers are Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation; Pan
African Women Projects; Pan African Youth Training and Enlightenment
Centre; Queen Zara Foundation for Human Resources Development; The
Commonwealth; and the United States Embassy.

Some of the observer
groups are being led by some ex-leaders, including ex-Tanzanian
President Dr. Jakaya Kikwete (Commonwealth Observer Group); former
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn (African Union);
ex-Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (ECOWAS); and Maria Arena
(the Chief Observer, European Union Election Observation Mission (EU
EOM) to Nigeria).

Ms Arena is a member of the European Parliament
from Belgium. Kikwete is “a well known friend of Obasanjo” a source
said, adding: “He was regular at the Ota Farm House Dialogue in the
eighties. They even worked together at the African Union on the NEPAD

Obasanjo is also believed to be close to Mrs
Johnson-Sirleaf. “We all know Nigeria’s role in Liberia during the
Obasanjo Presidency,” the source said, pleading not to be named because
he is not permitted to talk to the media.

Another source
spoke of an intelligence report that some of the observer groups are in
Nigeria to work in line with “pre-determined agenda” of their countries.
Besides, the source noted that it was wrong for some ambassador to be
moving round the country on “election tourism” without the foreign
minister’s permission.

The Federal Government had last week
raised the alarm that the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party( PDP)
was planning to send a delegation to some western capitals.

source, who spoke in confidence, said: “The security report available to
the government indicated that some foreign observer groups are already
biased and they are in the country to act out a script already written
for them.

“Some countries already accused of interfering in the
internal affairs of Nigeria have exerted much influence on the observer
missions to discredit the poll.

“These groups have prejudged the
election as not free, fair and credible. This is going to be their
ultimate verdict, irrespective of what the Independent National
Electoral Commission ( INEC) does.

“The most disturbing in the
security report is the fact that some chairmen and members of these
observer groups have links with a former President who is suspected to
have influenced their choices for a purpose.

“A few of them had
been visiting the ex-President in the past and some were even helped to
power through the international goodwill of the ex-leader.”

intelligence source added that some of the observers may have been
playing into the hands of those plotting “an electoral stalemate and
drag Nigeria into a political crisis to put an interim government in

“They are ready to do whatever they can to get President Muhammadu Buhari out of power.”

to a question, the source said the surveillance on some observer groups
showed that they were violating the code of conduct put in place by

On its website, INEC says: “All accredited observers shall
abide by the code of conduct for election observers, which is available
for download on the INEC website (www.inecnigeria.org).

reserves the right to cancel and withdraw the accreditation of any
organisation if its members or agents breach the code of conduct.’’

But some missions have already assured Nigerians that they will be impartial.

Chair of the Commonwealth Observer Group, Dr. Jakaya Kiwete, on Monday
said the mission will be impartial in its assessment of the elections.

He said the group will issue an interim statement on its preliminary findings on the first set of elections on February 18.

He said the18-man team of observers was drawn from Africa, Asia, Europe, the Caribbean and the Pacific.

They were deployed to observe the opening, voting, closing, counting and the results management processes.

This is the sixth time a Commonwealth Observer Group will be observing elections in Nigeria since 1999.

a former President of Tanzania, made the clarifications in a
statement in Abuja against the backdrop of anxiety over the roles of the
group and others.

He said: “Our Group was constituted following
an invitation from the Independent National Election Commission,
drawing together 18 eminent persons from across the different regions of
the Commonwealth, including Africa, Asia, Europe, the Caribbean and the

“We come in our own individual capacities, bringing a
wide range of expertise in the areas of election administration,
political development, law, human rights, civil society, gender, youth,
as well as media.

“As a group, we are here to observe the
organisation and conduct of the election process as a whole, and will
form an impartial and independent assessment of its credibility.

Commonwealth Observer Group will consider the pre-election period,
polling day itself, as well as the post-election period. Our main task
is to assess whether the elections have been conducted according to the
national, regional and international standards to which Nigeria has
committed itself, including its own laws.

“On election day, we will observe the opening, voting, closing, counting and the results management processes.”

group will submit a final report to the Commonwealth Secretary-General
and, thereafter, share with the Government of Nigeria, INEC, political
parties, Commonwealth governments, then make it public.

The group
expressed hope that its presence will confirm the unwavering solidarity
of the Commonwealth with Nigeria as the country conducts the elections.

The group however encouraged all citizens to “play their part in ensuring peaceful and credible elections this weekend.”

Head of EU EOM, Maria Arena, said: “It is a great honour for me to lead
this important EU Election Observation Mission to Nigeria. I am hopeful
that our observation will provide a meaningful contribution to the
electoral and democratic process in Nigeria.”

In a statement, the
EU EOM said: “The EU only deploys an election observation mission when
it is invited to do so by the authorities of a country. The EU has been
invited to observe all of the general elections in Nigeria since 1999.
Thus, this is the sixth time the EU is observing elections in Nigeria.

“The Independent National Electoral Commission invited the EU to deploy an observation mission for the 2019 general elections.

election observation missions give commentary and analysis, and make
recommendations about the electoral process. EU election observation
missions are impartial, do not interfere in the electoral process, and
operate according to a strict code of conduct.”

But the Buhari Media Organisation( BMO) has cautioned Kikwete against being used by Obasanjo former President.

statement by the Chairman, Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary of BMO,
Cassidy Madueke, the group said: “Many Nigerians are worried that the
head of the Commonwealth observer group may be swayed by Obasanjo’s
skewed pre-election position that the Independent National Electoral
Commission (INEC) does not have the integrity to conduct free, fair and
credible elections.

“This concern, we know, is as a result of the
long-standing friendship between the two former Presidents which began
long before Kikwete became the head of the Tanzania government in 2005.
But we are encouraged by the values that the Commonwealth holds
sacrosanct, and the fact that the head of the election observer team has
a track record as a peacemaker, especially in the Great Lakes region of
East Africa.

“So we hope that Kikwete would resist the pressure
that will surely come from former President Obasanjo who believes that
he has a divine role to determine the winner of the Presidential

Source:- Thenationonlineng


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