Presidential/NASS polls: Opposition enlisting U.K., U.S. support to discredit results – FG

The federal government has raised the alarm over alleged plan by the opposition to enlist the support of some foreign nations to discredit the outcome of presidential polls.

“Today, still based on credible intelligence, we can reveal that the opposition is moving a step further. They are working hard to discredit the forthcoming election before, during and after the polls.

“Specifically, they are sending a delegation to some Western capitals, including London, Brussels and Washington, DC, to push the concocted lie that the Buhari administration has perfected the plan to rig the polls. They are therefore pushing for a rejection of the results if the president wins re-election. They are also predicting carnage in the event of the president’s victory,” Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed has said.

He said this while addressing journalists in Abuja yesterday.

The position came some two weeks after the government said there were plans by some opposition elements to scuttle the polls by instigating widespread violence across the country.

Asked to be specific on the opposition party or parties, the minister said, “When we speak of opposition it is very clear – there is PDP – there is CUPP, and others.”  

 “With just 12 days to the 2019 election, we have called this press conference to alert Nigerians to the evil machinations of the opposition, which is not campaigning to win the election – because they know they can’t win a free, fair and peaceful election-but are busy planning how to scuttle or discredit it.

“Recall that on Monday, January 21st, 2019, we alerted the nation, also via a press conference, to the plot by some opposition elements to scuttle the 2019 general elections by instigating widespread violence across the country. Of course, we didn’t just make this up. It was based on credible intelligence.

“We revealed that the plan to scuttle the polls is part of moves to push the nation into a constitutional crisis, with the plotters hoping they can leverage on that to push for an interim government. When we raised the alarm, the opposition dismissed it. Of course, they were shocked to have been found out, so we understand their panic reaction.

“To underscore the seriousness of our alert, a week after our press conference, the National Security Adviser (NSA) met with state governors to also inform them of this same plan to scuttle the polls via widespread violence. As I said at my last press conference, the alarm we raised is based on credible intelligence.”

“Already, they have started flying the rigging kite domestically. They have been engaging in incendiary rhetoric and in making outlandish claims using several fronts, including the nebulous Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) which, by the way, is nothing more than a reincarnated Association for Better Nigeria (ABN). Of course, you all know the role that the ABN played in the failed 1993 political transition process.

“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 is 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.

“Some may ask: Why would the opposition go to this length? The answer is simple: They know, and are convinced, that they cannot win a 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! Their numbers just don’t add up!”

“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.

“We are therefore compelled to alert Nigerians and the global community to the following: – 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.

“To further their plan, the opposition is 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 no empirical basis for the idea they are pushing, beyond relying on exploiting the nation’s ‘fault lines’ of religion, ethnicity and regionalism.

“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.

“The Buhari administration is committed to a free, fair, credible and peaceful polls. 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!”

‘Army too concerned’

Raising similar alarm, Chief of Army Staff Lt.-General Tukur Buratai said unpatriotic groups and foreign conspirators were planning to scuttle the polls.

He said this at the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Operational Conference with Principal Staff Officers (PSO), Grand Officers Commanding (GOC) and selected field commanders yesterday in Abuja.

 “We have information of subversive motives by some unpatriotic groups aided by foreign conspirators to scuttle the peaceful conduct of the 2019 General Elections in some parts of the country,” he said.

Buratai therefore warned such detractors to have a rethink, saying the Army was working with the Police and other security agencies to ensure a safe environment for citizens to exercise their civic rights.

“In this regard, GOCs and field Commanders at all levels are to deal decisively with any form of security breach.”

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