By Olugbenga Salami
Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele has said that the sudden call on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to cancel the 2023 Presidential elections and halt the on-going collation of the election results by former President Olusegun Obasanjo was not only spurious, but flimsy and unjustifiable.
Bamidele, therefore, urged Nigerians to ignore and totally disregard “the ill-motivated advice” by Obasanjo, saying that the former president’s action was “a deliberate attempt to truncate the country’s democracy, an open invitation to anarchy and a devious assault on the collective civility and sensibility of the people who came out enmasse to exercise their franchise in fulfillment of their civic responsibilities on February 25.”
In a statement issued by his media office on Tuesday in Abuja, the lawmaker, added that “it is also an utter disrespect to the democratic world and the delegation of international observers who monitored the election with keen interest and adjudged it as a free, fair and credible process, describing it as a great improvement on the previous elections in Nigeria.”
He said: “Obasanjo’s unsolicited reactionary posturing on the just-concluded presidential election is characteristic of his anti-democratic and subversive tendencies which he had displayed on several occasions over the years.
“This is the same Obasanjo who publicly adopted Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party and urged Nigerians to vote for him. Unfortunately, Peter Obi lost woefully in the polling unit right in front of his (Obasanjo’s) house in Abeokuta. Apparently, Obasanjo is jittery because of the outcome of the election which invariably may not be in the favour of his adopted candidate. He is a bad loser.”
Bamidele, who represents Ekiti Central Senatorial District in the National Assembly, maintained that it is ridiculous and highly disheartening for Obasanjo to utterly question the credibility of an election where many sitting governors, senators and members of the House of Representatives failed to win their National Assembly elections in their respective States and where the Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress did not win in Lagos State and he accepted it in good faith.
He added that Obasanjo as incumbent President was alleged to have massively rigged the 2003 general elections for his party, the People’s Democratic Party, PDP.
The lawmaker went on: “He (Obasanjo) perpetrated the same executive lawlessness in 2007 when he foisted Umar Yar’Adua on Nigerian people, following his failed third term agenda which was geared towards perpetuating himself in power.
“How could a former President call for cancellation of the election where the Presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress, APC, failed to win in Lagos State, an election where President Muhammadu Buhari lost Katsina State to the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, an election where the Director General of APC Presidential Campaign, Governor Simon Lanlong was unable to win for his party in his state, an election in which the Governor of Kano State, Umar Ganduje and the Governor of Cross River State, Ben Ayade failed to deliver respectively for their political parties, as not free and fair elections.
“We are all living witnesses of what transpired during Obasanjo’s tenure when he said ‘election is a do-or- die affair’, in which many results were announced when people were still voting. I pray that Nigeria will not witness such dark days of Obasanjo when his own anointed candidate, Late former President, Umar Musa Yar’Adua himself admitted that the election that brought him to power was not free, fair and credible.
“This is an election in which the former President has an anointed candidate and was unable to deliver his polling unit, ward and State for the same candidate.
“It is obvious that Obasanjo is pained that he is unable to install his own candidate with the outcome of the election and that is the reason for his emergency televised address in Abeokuta, Ogun State.”
Bamidele pointed out that the credibility of the 2023 presidential and National Assembly elections is unprecedented in the political history of Nigeria, such that it is largely devoid of financial inducement and electoral malpractices.
He averred that the pockets of violence and irregularities that trailed the process in some parts of the country are not enough reasons for anybody to call for cancellation.
The lawmaker called on Nigerians to totally ignore Obasanjo and his cohorts that are making devious and desperate moves to plunge the entire nation into another season of civil unrest and political instability just because of their failure to win elections.
Bamidele particularly urged the youth not to be swayed into any action capable of derailing the fledging democracy in Nigeria, but rather question the credibility and ulterior motives of the anti-democratic forces calling for election cancellation.
He, therefore, advised the INEC to proceed with the collation and declaration of results and ensure that the winner of the 2023 presidential election is announced without any delay in order for Nigeria to move forward as a democratic nation.