By Stanley Onyekwere
The Association of Nigerian Scholars in the Diaspora (ANSD) has condemned growing allegations of plot to discredit the forthcoming rescheduled 2019 general elections, calling on Nigerians to reject such move.
Recall that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), had last Saturday shifted the Presidential and National Assembly elections, hinging its reason on problem of logistics.
The Association expressed disappointment at the postponement of the Presidential and National Assembly elections five hours to the commencement of the elections by the electoral umpire.
In a statement jointly signed by Prof. Bitrus Paul Gwamna, President and Prof. Pita Ogaba Agbese
Secretary-General, said the postponement had caused severe hardships to many Nigerian voters and candidates, especially those who traveled down to exercise their franchise.
The scholars affirmed that Nigerians deserve a better leader like President Muhammadu Buhari, who have laid a better foundation for a next level.
The statement reads: “While we may wish to believe that INEC acted in the best interests of nation, the manner in which the postponement was done was inescapably untidy. After assuring the nation that it was ready to conduct the elections, INEC’s last minute decision to abort the process on February 16th left much to be desired.
“INEC’s sudden postponement feeds conspiracy theories on manipulations and ulterior motives behind its conducts. This is unfortunate as INEC had conducted several free and fair elections under the Buhari administration.
“We urge INEC to take all steps to ensure hitch-free elections next Saturday and during the subsequent elections. All Nigerians have a duty to support the organization as it carries out one of the most solemn obligations of a democratic political system, the holding of free, fair and credible elections.
“As a patriotic organization, we have watched and heard with alarm, unguarded statements by former President Olusegun Obasanjo on the forthcoming elections.
“Obasanjo has all but condemned the elections as already rigged in favor of President Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC). He has made this condemnation without a scintilla of evidence.
“If Obasanjo’s statements on the elections were made from a non-partisan perspective, one could forgive him and say that his statements as misguided as they have been, were ill-advised but good intentioned.
“In fact, Obasanjo’s zeal for the Atiku candidacy creates the impression that it is Obasanjo himself who is the candidate of the PDP. This is really strange. Obasanjo had renounced partisan politics, tore up his membership card of the PDP and had sworn never to support Atiku Abubakar in his perennial quest for the presidency.
“It is up to Nigerians to determine who to forgive and what political retributions await those who abuse public trust. Nothing confers on Obasanjo the right to arrogate to himself who to forgive on behalf of the nation as a whole.
“We urge all Nigerians to come out massively to exercise their franchise on February 23, 2019. Nigerians have a right to judge for themselves who best to lead them. Obasanjo’s crude attempt to market Atiku through fake allegations and discrediting the pillars of democracy must be exposed for what it is. A selfish mission cloaked in artificial piety and patriotism.
“Nigeria deserves a leadership committed to tackling, head on, the major issues confronting the country. High on this list are corruption, insecurity and youth unemployment. On these issues, the Buhari administration has made giant strides. Boko Haram no longer controls any Nigerian territory.
“Social investment programs such as the N-Power, TraderMoni and the school lunch program have made positive differences in the lives of many Nigerians. Similarly, while the struggle against corruption is by no means finished, the massive recovery of hundreds of billions of Naira from convicted thieves of the commonwealth is important achievements that must be applauded by all patriotic Nigerians.”
“Nigerians must reject Obasanjo’s ill-motivated attempt to discredit the forthcoming elections. While it is the patriotic duty of all Nigerians that our elections must be conducted efficiently and effectively with the goal of producing a credible outcome anchored on freedom and fairness.
“We must reject Obasanjo’s attempt to discredit the election simply on the basis that his favored candidate may not be elected. Such a stand is a disservice to Nigerians and the country’s democratic process.”