Thursday, 06 May 2021

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Politics (189)

“The one lesson from Trump that Democrats may want to take to heart is the value of saying things clearly and unambiguously, not in nuanced shades of gray,” he said. “But it’s incumbent on any Democrat to appeal to a different set of values and completely avoid the clownishness.” He said that what a winning Democrat needs to project is the “return to the power of a good idea well expressed.”

Mr. Trump would not have to insert himself into the Democratic primary process for his presence to be felt in the air over two hot Miami nights. But it has at least been suggested that he could live-tweet the proceedings during his trip to Asia for a major international summit meeting with foreign leaders.

If he follows through, it would be a change from how Mr. Trump typically employs the medium — he more often reacts to coverage of events, rather than the events themselves. In 2016, he live-tweeted only one event, the vice-presidential debate, when he retweeted accounts that mocked Senator Tim Kaine’s appearance.

Ms. Dunn said that if Mr. Trump chose to weigh in, it would be a gift to the candidates he targeted. “I would think the candidates would think, Terrific,” she said. “Nothing could be better than walking out of the debate with the president tweeting at me.” In terms of appearing to present a real threat and contrast to Mr. Trump, she said, “you couldn’t make the point better.”

The Republican National Committee is not outsourcing all of its rapid response to the president. The committee’s chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel, will be in Miami during the debates, talking about the “socialist policies” promoted by the Democratic field, according to an organization official. The committee, officials said, is also planning to put out a response to the debates in English, Spanish and Mandarin.

That piece of the Republican response is more similar to how incumbents have outsourced reaction in the past.

“We, as a campaign, monitored and commented on statements that were made during debates,” said David Axelrod, a former adviser to Mr. Obama. “Occasionally, the president may have inserted a comment in a speech based on something that was said. But he wasn’t live-tweeting the other side’s race. He was busy with his day job.”

Posted On Tuesday, 25 June 2019 23:52 Written by

It takes a lot for C-Span to get mad.

But an unusual move by the South Carolina Democratic Party to bar the network from putting on a live broadcast of its annual convention — which is doubling as a major showcase for 21 presidential candidates — has left executives at the strait-laced public affairs network fuming. CNN and Fox News aren’t thrilled about it, either.

The source of the friction is a deal struck between the state party and MSNBC, the liberal-leaning cable network, granting the channel exclusive rights to show the candidates’ speeches live on Saturday.

Under the party’s rules, which were abruptly announced this week, rival television networks will have to wait three hours after the event concludes before broadcasting their footage.

News organizations always scrap for exclusive interviews with prominent politicians. But the South Carolina convention, virtually a required stop for presidential hopefuls, is typically open to all journalistic comers. The decision to restrict coverage set off broader concerns that the state party was picking and choosing the news organization allowed to cover what is a crucial event in an early-voting state.

“This has never happened before, ever,” said Steve Scully, the C-Span political editor, who has overseen the channel’s campaign coverage since the early 1990s.

Mr. Scully, who also hosts C-Span’s popular call-in show, is perhaps best known for a stoic onscreen demeanor that remains in place even when callers rant and complain. On Wednesday, Mr. Scully sounded more animated.

“You have what is an open event, and a political party dictating who can and cannot carry it live,” he said in an interview. “It really is a very undemocratic move. If they’re trying to get access to the widest audience possible, why not let everyone in?”

C-Span lodged a formal complaint on Wednesday with the convention’s organizers, calling their move “the antithesis of openness” that “could set a precedent that would end up seriously limiting citizen access to key presidential electoral events.”

Fox News, which was also barred from broadcasting the event live, said it planned to sign the C-Span letter and had lodged its own complaint.

In an interview, a spokesman for the South Carolina Democratic Party, Tim Sullivan, disputed the notion that networks had been “barred” from covering the convention, though he conceded that MSNBC had indeed been granted the exclusive live rights.

Mr. Sullivan said the decision was part of a broader agreement with MSNBC that, he argued, would enhance the proceedings. Two MSNBC hosts, Joy-Ann Reid and the Rev. Al Sharpton, are set to interview each of the Democratic presidential candidates from a set constructed inside the convention hall.

“This is probably one of the first times that a major state convention is going to have a show broadcasting from inside of it,” Mr. Sullivan said, adding, “We wanted to put on this big show for our conventiongoers and for our viewers.”

MSNBC declined to comment.

Mr. Scully, of C-Span, said he went public with his objections in an effort to prevent a troubling precedent. C-Span, he noted, has generated a library of decades’ worth of unfiltered appearances by presidential candidates, useful for historians and citizens alike.

“I worry it could be the start of a slippery slope,” he said.

Posted On Thursday, 20 June 2019 04:56 Written by

Philip Hammond is set to warn that a no-deal Brexit would harm the British economy, devour a £26.6bn Brexit war chest, and risk the break-up of the UK.

The chancellor is expected to say that Conservative candidates who are vying to be the next prime minister that they must come up with a Brexit plan “B”.

If they do not, he will hint that a second referendum could be needed to break the Parliamentary deadlock.

He will also pour cold water on tax and spending pledges by the candidates.

Mr Hammond is set to say in a speech at the annual Mansion House dinner in the City of London on Thursday that a no-deal Brexit would soak up £26.6bn that has been set aside that could otherwise be spent by an incoming prime minister.

In a BBC debate on Tuesday, leadership candidates promised tax cuts and increased spending on public services.

However, a no-deal Brexit would mean that was not possible, and would also leave the UK economy “permanently smaller”, Mr Hammond will say.

In March, the chancellor pledged to spend the war chest to boost the economy, if MPs voted to leave the European Union with a deal.

Conservative candidates including Boris Johnson have pledged to leave the EU by 31 October, even if that means quitting without a deal.

But a no-deal Brexit would “risk the Union”, Mr Hammond is expected to say.

“I cannot imagine a Conservative and Unionist-led government, actively pursuing a no-deal Brexit; willing to risk the Union and our economic prosperity,” he will say.

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson told party members on Tuesday to “take a long, hard look at themselves” after a YouGov survey suggested 63% would back Brexit even if it meant Scotland leaving the UK.

In April, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she would push for a second referendum on Scottish independence by 2021 if the country, which voted Remain, is taken out of the EU.

Posted On Thursday, 20 June 2019 04:48 Written by

NEWYORKDAILY247.COM: Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said at a fund-raiser in New York on Monday night that he had already amassed 360,000 donors with an average contribution of $55 — a disclosure that appeared to reveal he has raised $19.8 million for his presidential bid.

That is more than any other candidate raised in the first quarter of the year, when Senator Bernie Sanders paced the Democratic field and raised $18.2 million from more than 500,000 donors, and there are still two weeks remaining in the second quarter for Mr. Biden.

The revelation came at an unusual moment.

Campaigns typically guard their financial hauls closely, only releasing figures at strategic moments to maximize their impact. Mr. Biden made the declaration at the Upper East Side home of the hedge fund manager Jim Chanos.

Mr. Biden thanked the crowd, which Mr. Chanos estimated at 180, for having “allowed me to be able to compete in a way that I’ve never been able to before.”

“We’ve raised a great deal of money,” Mr. Biden said.

[Wall Street donors are beginning to pick their favorites in the 2020 race.]

The Biden campaign declined to comment on its fund-raising totals or say whether the figures Mr. Biden revealed were accurate. It had previously only announced raising $6.3 million in his first 24 hours as a candidate.

Mr. Biden still has two full weeks remaining in the second quarter to gather checks from large donors. He has more finance events in New York scheduled for Tuesday, and a big West Coast swing to the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle to close out the month following next week’s first Democratic debate.

In the first quarter of the year, the only two Democrats to raise more than $10 million were Mr. Sanders of Vermont ($18.2 million) and Senator Kamala Harris of California ($12 million). Mr. Biden entered the race in late April, after the first-quarter deadline had passed.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., is expected to be among the strongest fund-raisers in the second quarter, as well.

Posted On Tuesday, 18 June 2019 04:19 Written by

Malam Garba Madami, Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Kwara on Monday said that he resisted money offered by politicians to compromise the just concluded 2019 general elections in the state.

Madami, who hails from Gurara Local Government Area, of the state made this known to newsmen after his daughter’s wedding in Minna.

“There was pressure by politicians who offered me money to compromise the 2019 general elections in Kwara state but I stood my ground and refused to give in.

“The nature of our job at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is too tempting.

“It is left between you and God to do the right thing and keep your integrity or compromise and lose your integrity. You may even go to jail,” he said.

He decried money politics and a situation where politicians think they can buy peoples conscience to do their dirty work.

“The politicians have money and some of them feel that they can buy anybody with the money.

“It is a matter of integrity, it is left for you to be careful and work transparently to keep your integrity.

“What I did in Kwara state before the elections was to go on air and tell the people that no amount of money can buy me.

“I made them to understand that their votes will count and was not ready to compromise,” he said.

The REC however said that the 765 cases before the elections petition tribunal across the country owed to lack of internal democracy by political parties.

“If the various political parties respect their constitutions and do the needful you will have less to worry about,” he said.

He said that INEC was the most organised agency in the country because all the systems are working.

“All the personnel and departments are functioning, in other words INEC is working,” he said.

Posted On Tuesday, 07 May 2019 04:30 Written by

OSUN State Governor Adegboyega Oyetola, his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have asked the Court of Appeal in Abuja to uphold the governor’s victory in the governorship election held on September 22 and 27, 2018.

Their request was contained in three separate appeals they filed against the majority judgment given by the Osun State Governorship Election Tribunal on March 22, 2019.

The tribunal had, in the majority judgment, given by two of its three members upheld the petition by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate in the election, Senator Ademola Adeleke and voided Oyetola and APC’s victory.

In their appeals, argued yesterday, Oyetola, the APC and INEC prayed the five-man panel of the Court of Appeal, led by Justice Jummai Sankey, to set aside the majority decision of the tribunal, uphold their appeals and dismiss the October 16, 2018 petition by Adeleke and the PDP.

They equally urged the court to dismiss the cross-appeal filed by Adeleke, on the grounds that it is unmeritorious.

In the appeal by Oyetola, his lawyer, Wole Olanipekun (SAN), faulted the reasons given by the tribunal in reaching the judgment appealed against, arguing that the decision was not supported by the evidence led by the petitioners.

He urged the court to void the judgment because the judge, Justice Peter Obiorah, who wrote and delivered it, did not participate in all the proceedings of the tribunal.

Olanipekun noted that “the judge, who did not sit, came to write the lead judgment and reviewed the evidence of February 6, 2019 proceedings, where he was absent”.

“Adjudication is like video watching. It cannot be done by proxy. The judge cannot analyse the evidence of a witness, whose demeanour he did not observe. The judgment should be declared a nullity on this ground alone,” he said.

Olanipekun, who said he and some named senior lawyers were at the tribunal on February 6, 2019, faulted the argument by lawyer to Adeleke and the PDP that it was not clear from the record of proceedings, whether or not Justice Obiorah was absent on the particular day.

He argued that the judge’s failure to sign at the end of the proceedings on February 6, 2019, was enough evidence to justify the appellant’s claim that Justice Obiorah was absent on the day in question.

Olanipekun also faulted the tribunal’s cancellation of results in 17 polling units in the state, and noted that the petitioners did not tender any result of the election before the tribunal.

He argued that the tribunal went beyond its powers by annulling results in the 17 polling units to justify the judgment it gave in favour of the petitioners.

Lawyer to the APC, Akin Olujinmi (SAN), while arguing the party’s appeal, contended that the tribunal was wrong to have allowed the petition, which was incurably incompetent.

“The 1st and 2nd respondents sought to be declared winner of the election, held on September 22, 2018, which was declared inconclusive. They also asked the tribunal to void the rerun election held on September 27, 2018, because they believed it was unlawful.

“You cannot say you should be declared a winner on the election that you said was unlawful and void,” the senior lawyer said.

Olujinmi accused the tribunal of exceeding its jurisdiction when it engaged in amending the petitioners’ reliefs to make them grantable.

“No tribunal has the jurisdiction to reframe, amend or formulate reliefs for the petitioners.

“On realising that the reliefs could not be granted, they (members of the tribunal) amended the reliefs and granted it by themselves.

“We are saying the tribunal has no power to amend a petitioner’s reliefs. The much they ought to do, on realising that the reliefs could not be granted, was to have dismissed the petition.”

He faulted the tribunal for holding that the petitioners proved its case of non-compliance in respect of the polling units where it voided results.

Lawyer to INEC Yusuf Ali (SAN), who argued in a similar manner, contended that the tribunal erred in its majority judgment, particularly as regards the issue of non-compliance.

He noted that the tribunal, having found that accreditation was properly done and that all witnesses agreed that the votes scored were not affected by the omissions noted in some result sheets, ought not to have voided any results.

Citing Section 134 (b) of the Electoral Act, Ali argued that non-compliance means not compliance with the provision of the Act, not an act of omission on the part of INEC officials, which are not contrary to the provision of the Act.

Ali also argued that since the tribunal held that the petitioners did not prove over-voting and non-compliance, it ought not to have turned around to void votes in some polling units.

On the question of why INEC did not call it witnesses at the tribunal, Ali said it was unnecessary because the petitioners did not discharge the burden of proof placed on them by the law to warrant INEC to call fresh witnesses.

Lawyer to Adeleke and the PDP, Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), faulted the three appeals and the arguments proffered by Olanipekun, Olujinmi and Ali.

Ikpeazu argued that the tribunal was right in its decision to have declared Adeleke and his party as the winner of the election.

He faulted the argument that Justice Obiorah did not participate in all the proceedings of the tribunal, arguing that there was no sufficient evidence to that effect.

Ikpeazu urged the court to dismiss the three appeals and uphold the judgment of the tribunal.

Kehinde Ogunwumiju (SAN), who argued Adeleke’s cross-appeal, urged the court to allow his client’s appeal and reverse the portion of the judgment, where the tribunal rejected the evidence the petitioners lead in relation to six polling units.

Ogunwumiju argued that the tribunal wrongly excluded some of its evidence, because while it called 23 witnesses to prove it’s allegation of non-compliance in 23 polling units, the tribunal only upheld 17 where it voided elections.

Olanipekun, Olujinmi and Ali argued that the cross-appeal was incompetent on several grounds and urged the tribunal to reject it.

At the conclusion of proceedings that lasted over eight hours, the presiding judge, Justice Sankey, said judgments would be reserved till a later date.

She told the parties that the date of the judgment would be communicated to them by the court’s Registry.

Other members of the court’s five-man panel are: Justices Abubakar Datti Yahaya, Ita George Mbaba, Isaiah Olufemi Akeju and Bitrus Sanga.

Posted On Thursday, 25 April 2019 03:47 Written by

The All Progressives Congress (APC), in Kano state is now leading in eight out of the ten Local Government councils, with PDP having two as announced at the INEC collation centre in Kano.

Dr. Shehu Usman-Yahaya, collation officer for Governorship election said in Madobi Local Government Area (LGA), the All Progressives Congress (APC) has Scored 24,491, and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) scored 24,309 votes.

He added that the People’s Redemption Party (PRP) candidate which came third in the race in Makoda, Alhaji Salihu Sagir-Takai had also scored 425 votes.

Also, the returning officer for Makoda Local Government Area, Prof. Aliyu Suleiman said that the APC candidate, Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje has scored 22,788, and PDP candidate, Alhaji Abba Kabir scored 9,253.

According to Suleiman, the PRP candidate has scored 761 votes.

In Bebeji LGA, the collation and Returning officer for the Governorship election, Prof. Ibrahim Barde announced that the APC candidate has scored 17,418, and PDP scored 18,533 while PRP got 788 votes.

Dr. Mohammed Yusha’u, the Returning Officer for Kunchi LGA for gubernatorial election said the APC candidate had garned 16,159, while PDP got 13,171, with PRP having scored 270 votes .

In Danbatta LGA, the Returning Officer Prof. Abubakar salisu, announced that the APC candidate led with 24,686, defeating the PDP candidate who scored 18,696, leaving PDP to struggle with 2,793.

In Karaye,LGA, the returning officer, Prof.Bello ldris Tijani,announced that the APC scored18,770,beat the PDP candidate who got 17,163,while PRP managed with 383 votes.

In Kibiya LGA,the returning officer,Prof. Isa Garba said that PDP got 17,373,leaving APC with 15,760,while PRP was left with 250 votes.

While in Albasu LGA,the APC garnered 25,358 votes,PDP got 17,373,with PRP having 347 votes,as announced by the returning officer,Prof Mustafa Bichi.

In Garko LGA,the returning officer,Prof.Abdulsam and Umar Jibiya, announced that APC scored 16,952,while PDP has12,295 votes,as PRP scored 4,204 votes.

Posted On Sunday, 10 March 2019 14:32 Written by

The All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party are neck to neck in the Presidential and National Assembly elections in Edo State.

No official results have been announced as collation of results was still going on at each Ward.

Former Governor Adams Oshiomhole and National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress thrashed the PDP at his polling unit at Iyamho and Governor Godwin Obaseki won at his polling unit at Emokpae primary school.

Elections were generally peaceful across Edo State except in some polling units at Egor where ballot boxes were set ablaze.

Those that spoke hailed the conduct of the elections.

In some areas, there were initial malfunction of the card readers but they were later rectified.

In Edo South where Senator Matthew Urhoghide and Patrick Obahiagbon are in the race, unofficial results showed there were clear winner yet.

For the House of Representatives seat on Ovia Constituency, Dennis Idahosa of the All Progressives Congress maintained a lead in his stronghold while Barr. Omosede Igbinedion held on to Okada, her hometown.

Hon Ehiozuwa Agbonnayima took the lead in Ikpoba-Okha while his opponent, Jude Ise-Idehen is said to win in some wards in Egor.

Edo State Commissioner of Police, in charge of elections, Dan-Malam Mohammed who visited several polling in company of the lnter-Agencies Consultatives Committee on Elections warned policemen not to allow anybody enter INEC office.

His words, “Make sure you work with the names on your list. you know lNEC office is very vital during collation of results, make sure is properly secure.”

A visit to the Edo college, in Ward 8, in Oredo local government in units 27 to 30, the security agencies made up of Army, DSS, Custom, NCSDC, lmmigration and others to verify the situation on ground, the PDP and APC agents complains about shortage of sensitive materials like ballot papers and othe logistics plights to the police.

ln Udo, Ovia South West, ballot boxes were snatched and a suspect was arrested with arms and ammunition.

Police spokesman, DSP Chidi Nwabuzor confirmed the arrest.

Posted On Saturday, 23 February 2019 21:59 Written by

The All Progressives Congress (APC) has urged Nigerians not to vote for politicians who will loot the country’s treasury if elected into office.

Malam Lanre Issa-Onilu, the APC National Publicity Secretary, made the appeal in a statement on Thursday in Abuja.

He called on Nigerians to turn out en-masse on Saturday and use their votes to send a clear message to treasury looters who wanted to hijack presidential power by “hook or crook”.

He said the time had come for Nigerians to again reject the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.

“Never again should Nigerians allow them return to power to continue embezzling our resources.

“We must all remember how, under the PDP’s 16-year watch, our commonwealth was wantonly privatised and used to fund their political activities.

“The world has been daily assailed by outcomes of investigations showing the humongous funds that past PDP administrations stole and laundered for private use,’’ he said.

The APC spokesman noted that in the most inhumane manner under the PDP, counter-insurgency votes were channeled to private pockets while terrorists ravaged communities and citizenry and seized Nigeria’s territory.

He said the national economy was pushed to the verge of recession and cleverly papered over with voodoo economics employed by the PDP administrations.

Issa-Onilu added that confronted with the realities of a poorly-managed national economy and neglected infrastructure, the APC took over the administration of the country when Nigeria began slipping into recession.

He further added that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration had worked prudently to pull out the country from recession which the PDP plunged it into.

He stressed that the APC administration had today, degraded Boko Haram insurgence which under the previous administration, annexed and hoisted their flags in at least 28 local government areas in the North-East zone.

He added that the APC administration had also been surefooted in the fight against corruption, rebuilding the country’s dilapidated infrastructure and diversifying the economy.

He said that while the choices that had presented themselves before us as a nation in the coming elections were many, the APC offered the best credible alternative.

This, he said, was in terms of an incorruptible presidential candidate that could sustain the march towards a national rebirth or going backward to the era of looting and plundering of our commonwealth by a few elite.

This, he says, is what the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar offers.

Posted On Thursday, 21 February 2019 20:33 Written by

Party’s Campaign Council kicks against ‘threats’ Polls tip President for victory

United States Ambassador to Nigeria Stuart Symington got yesterday a piece of advice — watch your tongue.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Council accused Mr. W. Stuart Symington of creating an impression that President Muhammadu Buhari cannot win a free and fair election.

His comments are implicit attacks against the government of Nigeria, the Council said.

The Campaign noted that the continous warning by the American Ambassador about “flawed elections” is capable of casting an unwarranted cloud over the process, adding that instead of encouraging our country toward credible elections, such statements undermine public confidence.

President Buhari will win the election fair and square, the Council said. Some reputable research organisations have tipped the President to win the race.

Its spokesman Festus Keyamo, in a statement issued in Abuja, said it was concerned about the Ambassador’s statement in which he threatened to “hold to account” anyone whose speech, no matter the motivation of that speech, engendered hatred during the elections.

Keyamo said these statements by the envoy imply that the Federal Government was inclined to rigging the election in favour of President Muhammadu Buhari. This is unfair and unacceptable as President Buhari has never been accused of electoral malpractice all his life, Keyamo said.

The statement reads: “We are deeply concerned about many of the expressions of the United States’ Ambassador to Nigeria, Ambassador W. Stuart Symington and other Western diplomats which have been directed towards Nigeria’s upcoming elections. Whilst we laud and whole-heartedly welcome their interests in the elections, many of these expressions have been notably off- key.

“The continued warnings about ‘flawed elections’ are capable of casting an unwarranted cloud over the process. Instead of encouraging our country toward credible elections, such statements undermine public confidence. It would appear that these envoys seem to have discredited the election before it has even taken place.

“We truly hope some of the statements attributed to these diplomats are inaccurate. For instance, the Premium News reported that Ambassador W. Stuart Symington threatened to ‘hold to account’ anyone whose speech, no matter the motivation of that speech, engendered hatred. We all agree that any speech willfully intended to trigger violence is condemnable.

“However, in condemning other forms of political speech, the American envoy overstepped his ambassadorial brief. For instance, the American Ambassador was reported to have condemned a situation where a candidate says that his opponent’s political and economic policies are abhorrent and dangerous to the greater welfare of the people and calls on the citizens to hate and reject such policies.

“In our view, this is a correct statement because it is the duty of the candidate to tell the people these truths to protect the nation from subsequent calamity. But Ambassador Symington says his country would punish such necessary political speeches.

“For us, it is significant to note that such strong political speeches are not unlawful in the United States, but Ambassador Symington is seeking to penalise such speeches by Nigerians. He seeks to shrink our ambit of free speech so that we may behave in accordance with their vision of well-behaved Africans, rather than in consonance with our vision of our own democracy, no matter how tumultuous and dramatic we may be.

“It would appear that his position seeks to prohibit forms of expression integral to our political discourse. These forms of expression have time and time again been adjudged to be constitutionally-protected speeches by the United States Supreme Court.

“However, Ambassador Symington intentionally issued his threats to place a chilling effect on speeches in Nigeria that, if uttered in America, would be constitutionally protected. Unfounded allegations and threats to penalise people for constitutionally-protected free speech is improper interference in our internal affairs. Sadly, what Ambassador Symington and some other western diplomats are doing border on the improper.

“We take the view that the constant statements by Ambassador Symington and the other diplomats are implicit attacks against the government of Nigeria. These statements imply the Nigerian government is inclined to rig the election in favour of President Muhammadu Buhari. This is unfair and unacceptable to us. President Muhammadu Buhari has never been accused of electoral malpractice all his life.

“However, in contrast, former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar publicly boasted a few months ago that he rigged the 2003 election in the Southwest states. Here, we have an open confession of blatant electoral malfeasance by the PDP candidate. But in all of these, there seems to be no concern by Ambassador Symington and other diplomats about this well-acknowledged proclivity of the main opposition.

“We expected that such open confession to rigging in the past would have drawn condemnation from the United States. Rather what we witnessed recently was the ignoble act of giving such a self-confessed rigger with a decade-old indictment in America for corruption hanging over his head a special status to enter the U.S for a few days. Such is the double standard that America now displays for the whole world to see.

“It is unfortunate that most of these countries that sermonise about free and fair elections have ugly histories of denial of voting right to people because of their colour and are still facing many challenges with their electoral systems till date.

“The continued reference and praise of the 2015 election by Ambassador Symington clearly shows he needs further briefing about the Nigerian situation. For his information, the 2015 presidential election, at the end of the day, produced the correct outcome, but with flawed figures in many areas.

“Though they lost, the figures attributed to the PDP were inflated in many places, especially in the South South, to save the face of the past President and to reduce the margin of his defeat. President Buhari is determined to improve on the 2015 elections and so it cannot even be our benchmark.”

The statement pointed out the responsibility of an American ambassador stressing that his comments should reflect deep thoughts.

He went on: “An American ambassador has a great responsibility in representing the strongest economic and military power in the world. His comments carry weight because of the status of his nation. This means his comments should reflect a deep knowledge of the subject.

“Sadly, Ambassador Symington has not shown the deep knowledge of Nigerian situation. The impression he creates by constantly harping on suspected government interference with the electoral process is that President Buhari cannot win without tipping the results. He seems to be saying that only a PDP victory will be evidence of a fair election.

“Again, he is in great error. From all of the information at our disposal, President Buhari can and should win a free and fair election. However, it appears to us that Ambassador Symington is substituting his subjective conclusions for the sovereign will of the Nigerian people. In doing so, he has abandoned the impartiality of a true envoy and has trespassed into interfering in our electoral process.

“Instead of encouraging free and fair elections, these judgmental statements and threats only cast an unnecessary pall over the elections and the nation. This is an international disservice and not international diplomacy. The days of unquestioned condescension to Western powers are long gone and we are not prepared at this time in Nigeria to recede to that era.

“Nigerians will define Nigeria’s democracy. We shall hold fair and just elections, not because of scolding by diplomats, but because we have sufficient intelligence and morality to do what is right for ourselves.

“If Ambassador Symington has familiarised himself with Nigeria’s history from 1999 till date, he would have realised that those in the main opposition are being haunted by their past: they think President Buhari would behave exactly like they did all these years when they consistently rigged elections and denied Nigerians the right to choose their leaders.

“If Ambassador Symington truly intends to be impartial, his statements should acknowledge that both Government and Opposition (particularly in states where the opposition have governors in place) must respect the process and refrain from rigging.

“We expect him to counsel both governing party and the Opposition from any form of electoral malpractice. After all, it is not only Governments at the centre that rig elections. Elections can also be rigged in opposition-controlled areas.

“It is not too late for Ambassador Symington to repair the damage of his uninformed statements. He needs to speak as an impartial envoy instead of a person who appears to have prejudged the quality of the process and the outcome. Until he attains that level of informed impartiality, whatever good he seeks is better achieved by his silence than by tendentious utterances.”

Posted On Tuesday, 12 February 2019 05:05 Written by
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