March 1, 2023

Polls: Don’t truncate electoral process, Afenifere, ARG, CSO tell Obasanjo, others



By Dapo Akinrefon & Gabriel Olawale, LAGOS

THE pan-Yoruba socio-political Organisation, Afenifere, yesterday, disagreed with those calling for the cancellation of Saturday’s presidential election, saying such a call is capable of truncating the electoral process.

Afenifere, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Jare Ajayi, said the call was necessitated by a statement credited to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, in which he demanded the stoppage of the Presidential Election Results being made by INEC.

While conceding that the 2023 Presidential and National Assembly elections had some shortcomings, Afenifere insisted that the perceived shortcomings “do not constitute enough grounds to truncate the entire process. The ongoing announcement of election results should be concluded. Those who are not satisfied, either with the process or the outcome, can seek redress through the paths outlined by the law – Elections Tribunal and the courts.”

Ajayi said: “Anything short of that may lead to the truncation of the democracy we are practising now.”

He recalled that Afenifere was in the vanguard of those who fought vigorously for the enthronement of democratic practice in Nigeria.

Afenifere spokesman cautioned politicians against setting the country ablaze through their inciting utterances and actions.
He said: “When and where you win, be magnanimous. In the same vein, where and when you lose, be calm and accept it as your fate. ‘You lose some and gain some’ to quote a common cliche.

“Let this electoral process be successfully concluded so that we can have a smooth transfer of power on May 29 this year.”

Obasanjo lacks moral rights—ARG

Also, the Afenifere Renewal Group, ARG and Yoruba Assembly, yesterday, faulted Obasanjo over the conduct of the Presidential and National Assembly election saying he lacks the moral right to serve as a guiding beacon.

Speaking during a joint press conference in Lagos, ARG’s Chairman, Mr Olawale Oshun said the motive of the former president was to render the elections inchoate as that of 1993 so that he could remain as the only Yoruba man to ever attain the leadership of the country till his passing.

Oshun said: “If Gen. Obasanjo succeeded in intervening in the elections held under him, he should at least grant the present President the full prerogative of wishing to bequeath a free and fair election in our country. We pray he can do that to the end.

“We recognize however that more than ever before Nigeria is at a crossroads and that whoever emerged of the candidates has a great responsibility to set the ship of nationhood on the right path.

“We, as a people call on the incoming government to set itself on the task of restoring the unity of all the peoples of the country. This however has to be predicated on building a Nation where all the diverse people are equitable members in the country.

This can only be precipitated with a wholesome reform and restructuring of the Constitution of the Country. We no longer can pretend that the 1999 Constitution can see or aid the peace, amity and development of the country. That Constitution cannot.

Don’t set Nigeria on fire, CSO cautions politicians

On its part, a civil society organisation, Centre for Leadership and Justice, yesterday, warned politicians to stop heating the polity following the unfolding outcome of Saturday’s election.

Convener of the Centre for Leadership and Justice, Mr Emmanuel Umohinyang, said: “I do not agree that the election should be cancelled and my reasons are very simple. What they had put out had been that they were incidents of over-voting. They cited the example of Ekiti State, it is not enough to ask for an election to be cancelled just because you do not agree with certain parameters because a particular candidate is leading.”

Taking a swipe at Obasanjo who alleged compromise in the electoral process and demanded to reschedule the contentious polls, Umohinyang said: “If there is anybody who should speak about this election and comment about the issues of rigging, it shouldn’t be Obasanjo because under his watch, in the 2003 election, Nigeria was a war zone. Also in 2007, he introduced the phrase do-or-die politics.

“He cannot be the one writing a letter to a man like President Muhammadu Buhari, who has consistently said that he will leave a legacy of a free, fair, and transparent election. Writing a letter to Buhari is an insult, it is a slap to decency, and it has no place in a modern democracy.”