The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, has called the APC-led Federal Government against compromising the integrity of the 2023 general elections, declaring that the nation’s major opposition party does not want to be short-changed again.
Newsonline reports that Ayu also called on European Union to send a high-level and large-sized observer mission to Nigeria to observe and monitor the 2023 general elections, especially given that Nigeria is a very populous country with a very large landmass.
Ayu stated this Thursday while receiving the European Union Election Exploratory Mission to Nigeria, led by Mrs. Mette Bakken, at the PDP National Headquarters.
The PDP national chairman said, “We are prepared as a party to do the needful as far as the 2023 general elections are concerned. But we are worried about the tendency and capacity of the State to manipulate the critical technologies to our disadvantage. We need to pay close attention so that we are not short-changed again.
“There are security challenges in some states, I think six or so states. We hope government will stamp out the insecurity there early enough for elections to be held there with transparent outcomes. We will no longer accept questionable harvests of votes from inaccessible areas.
“In the past, those were areas where the ruling APC did what they love doing best: bringing votes that subverted the will of the people. Even though we are going to police our votes, it’s important that the EU sends a large number of observers ahead of the elections.”
Ayu said the larger population of the country and security concerns being raised by INEC that election may not hold in the South East and North West is an indication that the APC government wants to compromise the electoral process. He called on the EU to send large delegation to monitor the process.
“We need a large EU Observer Mission here. We don’t want token missions. This is because Nigeria is such a big country, with some states being bigger than some EU Member-States.
“And we need, among the observers, people with technical capacities too. Election observation has shifted from manual to technology. You need to keep talking to government and critical stakeholders so that the APC does not subvert the democratic will.
“We appreciate the efforts of the EU and thank the Observer Missions for their continued interest in the democratization process in Nigeria which is close to 25 years. We want the world to know that what is happening in Nigeria is democratic, transparent and credible.
“We do not want to be short-changed again. We believe we won the presidency in the 2019 general elections. We were injured in 2019, and we don’t want a second injury in 2023,” Ayu added.
The former senate president further raised concern that freedom of expression was being stifled, Ayu said, “To the best of my knowledge, Nigerians are very vibrant people. Even under military rule, we spoke our minds. It was through the process of speaking our minds that we formed this political party to make sure that the military handed over power.
“So, it is impossible to suppress the freedom of expression in Nigeria. The freedom space is still open. What the government in power is doing is denying us access to public spaces to hold our rallies. Even our convention, we had to navigate and put pressure before we got a venue here in Abuja. That must stop.”
Speaking earlier, the leader of the Mission, Mrs. Bakken said the EU Mission was in Nigeria to interface with relevant government bodies, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs); and, in line with the EU Methodology, look at the possibility of deploying EU Observer Mission for the scheduled 2023 general elections.
Besides Bakken, who is of the Democracy and Electoral Observation Division, (European Action External Service), other members of the EU Delegation included Frederick Schumman and Kairi Kasmann, both of the European Commission Foreign Policy Instrument. Members of the Exploratory Mission, who arrived Nigeria on 10th October, 22 will be on ground till 25th October, 2022.
Other members of the NWC in attendance were the National Secretary, Sen. Samuel Anyanwu; the National Publicity Secretary, Hon. Debo Ologunagba; the National Treasurer, Alh. Ahmed Yayari Mohammed and the National Auditor, Chief Okechukwu Daniel.