Tinubu rejects EU’s report on 2023 presidential election

PRESIDENT Bola Tinubu has rejected the European Union Electoral Observer Mission (EU-EOM) report that criticised the 2023 presidential election.

The EU Mission had in a report published on Tuesday, June 27, said the election exposed enduring systemic weaknesses and therefore signalled a need for further legal and operational reforms to enhance transparency, inclusiveness, and accountability in Nigeria’s electoral system.

EU-EOM Chief Observer, Barry Andrews, said the report was based on the analysis of compliance with Nigeria’s regional and international commitments for democratic elections.

He applauded the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for introducing some positive measures like an increased number of polling units and the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) early in the electoral process but noted that the actions did not buy public confidence in the electoral body.

The EU, however, noted that public confidence in INEC was severely damaged during the February 25 poll due to its operational failures and lack of transparency.

“While some corrective measures introduced before the 18 March elections seemed to have a positive impact, overall trust was not restored and eventually led civil society to call for an independent audit of the entire process,” the report said.

“Prior to the elections, selection processes were questioned leaving the institution vulnerable to mistrust.”

Andrews said a lack of transparency surrounded the use of the BVAS and the INEC results viewing portal (IReV) which contradicted the integrity and credibility of the elections.

The Mission also faulted the fines placed on media houses by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), saying they were carried out without due process and censored analytical reporting.

Other issues raised in the report include the impact of the naira redesign policy, violence, interference by governors, suppressed voter participation and low level of gender inclusion in the election.

But Tinubu, in a statement through his Special Adviser on Media, Dele Alake, on Sunday, July 2, described the report as a product of a poorly done desk job that relied heavily on a few persons.

The President said that he has many reasons to believe the “jaundiced report”, based on the views of fewer than 50 observers, “was to merely sustain the same premature denunciatory stance contained in EU’s preliminary report released in March”.

The President stated that it was outrageous and unconscionable for any foreign entity to insist on its own criteria and assessment as the sole means of determining the credibility and transparency of Nigerian elections.

He asserted that the 2023 general elections, especially the presidential election, were credible, peaceful, free, fair, and the most efficiently organised since 1999.

He noted that some notable bodies like the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) and even INEC, have commended the conduct and outcome of the election.

“Sometimes in May, we alerted the nation, through a press statement, to the plan by a continental multi-lateral institution to discredit the 2023 general elections conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission,” he said.

“The main target was the presidential election, clearly and fairly won by the then candidate of All Progressives Congress, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

“While we did not mention the name of the organisation in the said statement, we made it abundantly clear to Nigerians how this foreign institution had been unrelenting in its assault on the credibility of the electoral process, the sovereignty of our country and on our ability as a people to organise ourselves.

“We find it preposterous and unconscionable that in this day and age, any foreign organisation of whatever hue can continue to insist on its own yardstick and assessment as the only way to determine the credibility and transparency of our elections.

“Now that the organisation has submitted what it claimed to be its final report on the elections, we can now categorically let Nigerians and the entire world know that we were not unaware of the machinations of the European Union to sustain its, largely, unfounded bias and claims on the election outcomes.

“For emphasis, we want to reiterate that the 2023 general elections, most especially the presidential election, won by President Bola Tinubu/All Progressives Congress, were credible, peaceful, free, fair and the best organised general elections in Nigeria since 1999.”

He said that neither the EU nor any other foreign or local organisation had presented substantial evidence capable of discrediting the election outcomes.

He stressed that the limitations of the EU’s final assessment were evident in the press conference conducted by the Head of its Electoral Observation Mission, who stated that the EU-EOM had monitored the pre-election and post-election processes in Nigeria from January 11 to April 11, 2023, with a team of 11 analysts in Abuja and 40 election observers across the states.

“Within this period, EU-EOM observed the elections through 11 Abuja-based analysts, and 40 election observers spread across 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. With the level of personnel deployed, which was barely an average of one person per state, we wonder how EU-EOM independently monitored election in over 176,000 polling units across Nigeria.”

He demanded an explanation from the EU on how it reached it’s conclusions in the final report, considering the scant coverage provided by it’s observers.

He claimed that the EU-EOM relied heavily on rumors, hearsay, biased and uninformed social media commentaries, and opposition narratives.

Tinubu further rejected any insinuation or suggestion that the 2023 election was fraudulent, reiterating his earlier position that the use of technology had made it the most transparent and well-organized election since Nigeria’s return to civilian rule.

He pointed out that non-partisan foreign and local observers such as the African Union (AU), the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS), Commonwealth Observer Mission, and the NBA had validated this claim.

“Our earlier position that the technology-aided 2023 general elections were the most transparent and best organised elections since the return of civil rule in Nigeria has been validated by all non-partisan foreign and local observers such are the African Union, ECOWAS, Commonwealth Observer Mission and the Nigerian Bar Association.

“Unlike EU-EOM that deployed fewer than 50 observers, the Nigerian Bar Association that sent out over 1000 observers spread across the entire country for same election gave a more holistic and accurate assessment of the elections in their own report.

“NBA, an organisation of eminent lawyers and an important voice within the civic space, reported that 91.8 per cent of Nigerians rated the conduct of the national and state elections as credible and satisfactory. Any election that over 90% of the citizens considered transparent should be celebrated anywhere in the world.






     

     

    “It is heart-warming that INEC, through its National Commissioner for Information and Voter Education, Mr. Festus Okoye, has come out to defend the integrity of the election it conducted by rejecting the false narratives in the EU report.

    “It is also gratifying that the electoral umpire, as an institution that is open to learning and continuous improvements, has also committed to taking on board more ideas, innovation and reforms that will further enhance the integrity and credibility of our electoral process.”

    It further said as a country, “we have put the elections behind us. President Tinubu is facing the arduous task of nation-building, while those who have reasons to challenge the process continue to do so through the courts.

    “In just one month in office, Nigerians appear satisfied with the decisive leadership of President Tinubu and the manner he is redirecting the country to the path of fiscal sustainability and socio-economic reforms. We urge the EU and other foreign interests to be objective in all their assessments of the internal affairs of our country and allow Nigeria to breathe.”

    You can reach out to me on Twitter via: vincent_ufuoma

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