The Federal Government has welcomed the statements from the United States and the United Kingdom demanding a credible and peaceful election in Nigeria and threatening punitive measures against those caught perpetrating election malpractices.
In a statement issued in Ilorin on Friday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the Federal Government was delighted that the statements came after it alerted the nation to the alleged machinations of some opposition elements who it claimed were working to scuttle the 2019 polls through widespread violence.
Recall that the United States and the United Kingdom had on Thursday announced repercussions, including visa restrictions, for election interference and election-related violence.
They threatened to restrict masterminds of violence during the forthcoming elections from visiting the US and UK.
In a joint statement in Abuja, the two nations said the upcoming elections was important not only for Nigeria, but for the African continent.
The United States Government said it did not support any specific candidate or party in Nigeria’s upcoming elections.
“The United States supports the Nigerian democratic process itself. We support a genuinely free, fair, transparent, and peaceful electoral process.
While welcoming the positions of the two counties, the minister said the Federal Government had equally alerted the nation that the tthere were some members of the opposition that he claimed were planning to scuttle the forthcoming elections.
Mohammed said in his statement on Friday, ”A few days ago, we alerted the nation to the plot by the opposition to orchestrate widespread violence in the country, using insurgents and criminal elements within and outside the country.
“Their plan is to scuttle the election and then push for an interim government, having realised they can’t win a free, fair, credible and peaceful election.
”The fact that those statements came after we issued our red alert, which is based on credible intelligence, shows that the international community is closely monitoring events ahead of the election.
“We urge them to keep a close tab on the desperate opposition, whose language, actions and undisguised threats are antithetical to the conduct of peaceful polls. ”
Mohammed said Nigerians and the international community should take seriously the assurance of a credible and violence-free election that he said had been consistently given by President Muhammadu Buhari, who he described as a tried-and-tested democrat and a globally-acclaimed man of integrity.
He said the All Progressives Congress-led Administration ” is very confident of victory in the forthcoming elections”, adding that a party that was not so desperate as to rig election while in opposition had no business rigging election or perpetrating violence now that it is in power and “is enjoying massive support from the citizenry.”
The minister called on the international community to keep a close eye on those who he said are spending more time on a dubious strategy to scuttle the polls than campaigning to win in a free, fair, transparent and peaceful election.
According to him, ”As their campaign flounders and their strategies collapse, they have resorted to seeking power by subterfuge.
“That’s why they are doing everything possible to discredit an election that has yet to be held by unleashing their attack dogs on Independent National Electoral Commission, the police and the entire electoral process.
”On our part, we have confidence in the electoral process and the institutions saddled with organizing and securing the election. That’s
why we have been busy campaigning vigorously across the country, attracting unprecedented, organic crowds everywhere we go.
”The party that has a history of rigging polls is well known to Nigerians. The party that has a history of using security forces to unleash violence in order to steal the people’s votes is well known to Nigerians.
“The party that organised an election that was later described as flawed by its own ‘winning’ presidential candidate is well known to Nigerians. That party is not the APC.”