The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) declared yesterday that foreign observers are very much welcomed in Nigeria during this year’s elections starting with the presidential polls on Saturday.
But it warned that no form of meddlesomeness, intimidation or interference by any foreign country in the electoral process in the guise of election monitoring would be allowed.
The party said those coming to observe the election should be aware that Nigeria is a sovereign state and not a colony of any nation and should therefore apply international best practices in carrying out their functions as election observers.
National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, said in a statement in Abuja that the party was solidly behind the statement credited to Governor Nasir El’Rufai of Kaduna State, and it was ready to defend Nigeria.
Onilu said, “We stand fully by the statement as regards any country that thinks we are a colony; that we have a right to defend every inch of this country; and we are not a banana republic.
“Governor El’Rufai never said people should not come and observe or monitor elections. And he was not referring to people who are genuinely coming to monitor and observe the elections. Nigerians also go to other countries as monitors and observers. So that is acceptable to us. We welcome peer review. What we don’t welcome and what is unacceptable to us is any country thinking we are a colony, we are not. We are a sovereign nation.”
On the development within the party in Imo State, Issa-Onilu said the National Working Committee of the party was yet to take a decision.
He said, “We are aware of the situation in Imo and we have made our point clear. Let me reiterate that APC does not have an alliance with any party, including the Action Alliance. We are not in alliance with any party whatsoever in this election.
“However, we welcome support for our candidates from any party, but we do not have such an arrangement that accommodates the candidate of any other party besides APC candidates. In Imo and all the thirty-six states, including the FCT, we are campaigning for APC candidates and we expect APC candidates to win elections anywhere we are campaigning in a free and fair atmosphere.
“We are also aware of the fact the party’s local chapter has taken some disciplinary action as regards the Imo State governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha. In the last few weeks, we have been going round the country to present our scorecard before Nigerians and to seek a renewal of this mandate to continue the good work that President Muhammadu Buhari has embarked on.
“The National Working Committee has not been able to meet on that and many other issues pending. In due course the NWC will meet and that may be one of the issues that will be considered.
“As at today, the real issue in Imo is to emphasise the fact that APC is supporting all APC candidates in Imo and we do not recognise candidates that are not from the APC. We encourage the people of Imo to vote massively for APC candidates. The governorship candidate in Imo remains Senator Hope Uzodinma,” he said.
Responding to the criticism that greeted the recent redeployment of Commissioners of Police to the states, the APC spokesman said, “a few weeks ago, it was the same PDP that was crying that the police had been compromised and that the former Inspector General of Police was poised to deliver the election to APC. Now the president has taken the position by appointing a new IGP. Now I don’t know where the noise is coming from.
“There is no need to deceive ourselves. The whole noise about the posting of commissioners of police is about Kwara State; Dr. Bukola Saraki is scared stiff remembering all he had done in the past when he had the control. What he normally used the police for, the way he used to manipulate INEC and he is thinking that the same thing may happen to him.
“How could you suggest to the police not to carry out its routine exercise. If the police think it is part of its preparation to ensure a free and fair election, provide security before and after the election is to move its personnel around, how does that bother anybody?
“It is because Bukola Saraki has realised without having control over INEC and the police, there is no way he can win his seat to come back as a senator. He cannot even deliver his polling unit, without being aided by the police and INEC and that is what he has been doing before but is no longer available for him.
“But let me assure him and his co travellers, the APC doesn’t need those illegal things to win elections. In fact, we need them to do their jobs; we need them to provide a level playing field to all political parties. That is all we want from the police; that is all we want from INEC. We don’t need the template Bukola Saraki and the PDP have been using and we are not going to use it.”
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