Fresh plots allegedly hatched by the opposition political parties to discredit the electoral body and the police before the international community have been unearthed by the federal government.
The government said yesterday that the choice of the Nigeria police and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the smear campaign was designed to pave the way for the opposition to reject the outcome of the upcoming general elections.
And for the second time in a month, the government also accused the opposition of planning to instigate widespread violence across the country to scuttle the general elections, which begins with the presidential poll on February 16, 2019.
Through the minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the federal government asserted that the opposition had particularly concluded plans to discredit key institutions, among them, INEC and the Police before the international community, as an excuse to reject the election result.
Mohammed told journalists in Abuja that the government is in possession of credible intelligence information on the plot.
Specifically, the minister alleged that they (opposition) are sending a delegation to some Western capitals, including London, Brussels and Washington DC, to push the concocted lie that the Muhammadu Buhari Administration had perfected the plan to rig the polls.
He said: “They are therefore pushing for a rejection of the results if the president wins the election. They are also predicting carnage in the event of the president’s victory.”
According to him, the opposition parties are “dispatching a 10-member delegation to some Western capitals, including London, Brussels and Washington, DC, to sell the idea that the Buhari administration has perfected the plan to rig the election.
“They have targeted, for attack, the two key institutions that are most critical to the success of the election: The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Police. They have used every malleable and malicious personality to make wild allegations against INEC. Their strategy is simple: discredit the election even before it’s held, and continue during and after the polls with a view to convincing the West – which they believe they have won to their side using lobbyist-propelled propaganda – that the election is not credible.
“The opposition is approaching the election with an incredible level of desperation. In this regard, they have activated their own version of the infamous Association for Better Nigeria (ABN), under the guise of CUPP, to engage in unrestrained rabble-rousing and frivolous court cases. Of course, the activities of CUPP in recent times are there for all to see, even though the coalition seems to be a very poor imitation of the original ABN,” he added.
Mohammed, however, said those spearheading the plot have no empirical basis for the idea they are pushing, beyond relying on exploiting the nation’s “fault lines” of religion, ethnicity and regionalism.
He continued: “We are therefore compelled to alert Nigerians and the global community that the desperate opposition is doing everything possible, including instigating widespread violence as well as relentless attacks on key institutions, to discredit the forthcoming election. They know they will lose the election, but they want victory by subterfuge.”
The minister further stated that the opposition elements had started flying the rigging kite domestically, through incendiary rhetoric and outlandish claims using several fronts, including the nebulous CUPP.
Mohammed, who assured that the President Buhari-led administration remains committed to free, fair, credible and peaceful polls, urged Nigerians to be vigilant as “we begin the final countdown to the election.
“We are glad that local and international observers are already fully mobilised to monitor the election. We call on all Nigerians to be vigilant as we begin the final countdown to the election. Eternal vigilance, as the saying goes, is the price of liberty. We must not allow desperate politicians to crash our democracy on the altar of their personal – and sometimes inordinate ambition,” he added.
The government had on Monday, January 21, 2019, alleged that there was a plot by some opposition elements to scuttle the 2019 general elections by instigating widespread violence across the country, citing credible intelligence.
A week after, the National Security Adviser (NSA) met with state governors to also inform them of this same plan to scuttle the polls via widespread violence.
Mohammed however attributed the desperate plot by the opposition to obvious realisation that the ruling party would win majority votes in the forthcoming elections.
“They know, and are convinced, that they cannot win free, fair, credible and peaceful polls. The handwriting is on the wall for all discerning people to see. While President Buhari has received warm and genuine reception and adulation from huge crowds everywhere he has gone to campaign, their candidate has been exposed to apathetic and thinning crowds.
“On our part, we as an administration are undaunted by their antics, even though we believe it is necessary to expose their evil plans – as we have been doing – to the world. President Muhammadu Buhari has repeatedly stated his commitment to ensuring a free, fair and violence-free election. He has no doubt – based on testimonies of change from Nigerians – that the achievements of his administration, in the three cardinal areas of fighting corruption, revamping the economy and fighting insecurity, will speak for him at the polls. He did not rig his way into office and has no need to rig now that he is in office,” the minister stated.
CUPP Accuses FG Of Plot To Scare International Observers
In its reaction, CUPP accused the federal government of plotting to scare away members of the international community from monitoring the forthcoming elections.
CUPP said that the government having sensed that it would lose at the polls had resorted to claims that the opposition are lobbying countries to discredit the outcome of the elections.
A statement by its spokesperson, Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere, said that all the intelligence available to them showed that the only option left in the elections for the presidency and the ruling APC is to massively rig the elections for which they have already deployed machinery.
The statement partly read: “The presidency has realised albeit too late in the day that their game is up thus their red herring. They cannot bamboozle the Nigerian people anymore with their propaganda and come February 16, Nigerians will massively vote for the opposition consensus candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and he will win the election fair and square.
“Who is attempting to buy votes through the fraudulent Tradermoni which has failed? Who is plotting to import voters from neighbouring countries which has been exposed? Who is deploying security agencies particularly the military through the hurriedly put together ‘Operation Python Dance Three’ to intimidate voters? All these have failed hence they purchased an order with which the Chief Justice of Nigeria was unlawfully forced out of office, a Magistrate Court order to arrest key opposition leaders including Senator Bukola Saraki, Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere, Senator Ben Murray Bruce, Uche Secondus and 16 other leaders of the opposition.
“Let it be known to the presidency that any election result which is not a reflection of the will of the Nigerian people will be rejected and that the real winner of the election will form a government of Nigerian people by Nigerian people and for Nigerian people,” he said.
“The statement is a failed attempt by Alhaji Lai Mohammed and his paymasters to scare the international community away from monitoring the election as the gate keepers of developing democracies.
“Alhaji Lai Mohammed speaking like he is still in the opposition is scared stiff that the figures are not looking good for the ruling party. They are now in panic mode. All our allegations against this government has turned out to be as alleged and we have proven time and time again that we have credible sources of information as to the plot by the presidency to disrupt the election so as to perpetuate President Buhari in office,” he said.
71 Retired Generals Back PMB’s Re-election
Meanwhile, 71 retired Army Generals, Admirals, Marshals and former military governors/administrators have endorsed Buhari for a second term in office.
Their action came a day after the major socio-cultural groups – Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Afenifere, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Pan Niger Delta Elders’ Forum (PANDEF) and the Middle Belt Forum announced Buhari’s main opponent, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as their anointed candidate.
The retired military top brass made public their choice of Buhari yesterday during a visit to the State House, Abuja, yesterday.
In his response to his preference by the ex-military chiefs, Buhari reiterated his main objective in contesting elections four times and ending up in Supreme Court three times, before he finally won the election in 2015.
He said: “God has made this country great. We have human and material resources, and may God continue to give us the right leaders. My objective is very clear, and I will continue to do my best.”
Buhari recalled what he said in his era as military head of state that, “we have no other country but Nigeria. We will stay here and salvage it together.”
The president noted that even if one was blessed enough to send his or her children for training abroad, “after such training, they will still have to come back here. We must, therefore, give our best to our country. The patriotism imbued in us by the military will ever remain relevant. Let’s do our best for this country.”
Describing Nigeria as “a fabulous country,” the president said in a statement issued by his spokesman, Femi Adesina, that if it were not so, “the country could not have survived the damage done to it materially and morally in the past.”
Buhari glorified God that after a 30-month civil war, with over two million lives lost, “we are still one country.”
He prayed that Nigeria would not lack people who can exploit its human and material resources, adding that, “the higher you go in Nigeria, the hotter it becomes, and not the other way round. But I can’t complain. I tried so hard to be here three times, ending up at the Supreme Court. So, I can’t complain over anything I am going through now.”
He described the military as an institution that gives amazing opportunities to know the country, its different peoples and cultures, “and I am very grateful that you have claimed me back as one of your own. I was governor of Northeast, which is now six states, minister of petroleum for over three years, head of state; I was arrested and detained, but did not lose my rank, because nothing was found against me.”
The leader of the delegation, Brigadier-General Buba Marwa (rtd), who was military governor in Borno State, and later military administrator of Lagos State, said that the retired top officers thought it right to visit the president, “to say that you have represented your constituency very well. You announced a simple three-point agenda upon assumption of office: security; fighting corruption, and revamping the economy. You have kept your words as an officer and a gentleman.”
Gen Marwa added: “We, the retired armed forces’ officers, representing 99.9 per cent of our colleagues say that we are proud of you; proud to be associated with your administration; and proud to witness this era of Nigeria rising again under your able leadership. We support you fully and totally in the presidential election next week and will do whatever we can within the law to contribute to your emergence as the victor in the election in order to take Nigeria to the next level.”
The most senior of the retired officers, Vice Admiral Jubrilla Ayinla, a former chief of naval staff, who said that future generations would acknowledged President Buhari “most creditably,” added that “on behalf of the Generals here today, I congratulate you on the tremendous work done by this administration, and wish to state unequivocally that we are proud of you and fully behind you in the presidential election next week. We pledge our full support and continued loyalty.”
The delegation was made of one Vice Admiral, two Lt-Generals, 15 Major Generals, two Rear Admirals, eight Air Vice-Marshals, 12 Brigadier-Generals, three Commodores, nine Air Commodores, and 17 former military governors/administrators, among others.
PDP Discredits PMB’s Endorsement By Retired Generals
The action of the military chiefs was condemned by the opposition PDP, which dismissed their endorsement of Buhari as “mere name dropping.”
PDP national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, told newsmen in Abuja that the said endorsement of the president amounted to name dropping meant to create an aura that does not exit around Buhari.
Ologbondiyan said: “We consider this endorsement as name dropping, just to create an aura that does not exist around President Buhari. Young officers are being killed and no General has spoken on how to curb the insurgency and banditry.”
He asked “Is it now that Nigerians are tired of the governance style of President Buhari that the Generals will be endorsing him? When bandits are taking over Zamfara State and even Katsina the home state of Buhari? The PDP does not believe any General worth his salt will do that.”
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