By Dapo Akinrefon
MR Festus Keyamo is the spokesperson for the Buhari Campaign Organisation. In this interview, Keyamo defends Kaduna State Governor’ Nasir el-Rufai’s statement against foreign interference in Nigria’s general elections.
He also expresses optimism that the All Progressives Congress, APC, will win the elections. Excerpts:
How do you react to PDP’s advice to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for an extension of the deadline for the collection of Permanent Voter Cards, PVCs?
This is exactly one week to the elections, we cannot defend INEC.
The PDP is also threatening to pull out of the peace accord it recently signed on the polls. Do you think they are naive?
Well, you know the PDP has been looking for an opportunity to avoid facing the electorate in these elections. The history of the PDP is that they have never won elections on the ballot and I am saying this with all sense of seriousness and Nigeria know their history. The DNA of the PDP is to write results any way they can find it.
Now, they see a looming defeat and, because of that, they want to use every opportunity to either avoid the elections, destroy the process or destroy the credibility of the process or, as a last resort, cause mayhem if they lose. That is what they are trying to do. For instance, what is making them make this choice? It is simply the statement that Governor Nasir El-Rufai made that Nigeria will not tolerate foreign interference in our elections.
Now, the PDP has refused to draw a line between party interest and national interest. National interest dictates that no foreign country should interfere in our country.
If you look at Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter, it states that all members should refrain from threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state or in any other manner inconsistent with the United Nations. If you look at all scholarly works on international laws, you will see that the phrase foreign interference is used interchangeably with foreign interventions.
In other words, foreign inference means foreign intervention, which has been defined to mean the use of force by one country against another country in a bid to impose its own will on that country.
So, we must draw a difference between foreign interference and foreign observations. We welcome foreign observations, we are happy about foreign observations.
When you come as an observer, make your comments and go.
So, we expect the PDP to join hands with el-Rufai to warn our foreign friends never to interfere in our process. What el-Rufai did is patriotic, it is in tune with international convention.
How do you react to angry reactions that trail the Army’s decision to carry out Operation Python Dance in the South East?
This has been allegedly targeted at some persons in an attempt to manipulate the electoral process.
Well, like I said, the PDP cries foul when there is none, they cry wolf when there is none. We are all witnesses to IPOB threat to boycott and distrust the elections. I am sure you have heard all the broadcast from Nnamdi Kanu.
So, should a reasonable government fold their hands and watch that happen?. The PDP claims that the South-East is their stronghold, we have only one governor in the South-East and they have three in the region. If there is a threat to disrupt elections there and you have an irresponsible Federal Government which thinks that that area is not its stronghold, naturally, the Federal Government should allow elections in that area to be disrupted.
That is the natural thing. The Federal Government should be happy that elections will be disrupted so that votes do not count but in a bid to conduct free and fair elections and to ensure that all votes count, the Federal Government is deploying security personnel there to ensure that IPOB does not disrupt elections so that votes can count.
If the PDP is confident that the South-East is their stronghold and that votes must count, why are they afraid that security personnel are going to conduct operations there so that votes can count? This thing does not add up at all.
You see, the PDP is learning the art of opposition, they just want to wake up and oppose every single thing that government does. That is not what opposition is all about.
Do you trust INEC in conducting free and fair elections?
If I say I trust or I don’t trust them, you must cite instance. I cannot wake up to say I am trusting or not trusting. These issues are what people quote during elections to cast doubt in the minds of people for no reason.
How optimistic are you that your party will win the elections?
We are confident about the presidential election, we also confident that we are going to win more states than we presently have.
The voting pattern since 2003 put us in clear lead over the main opposition.