Advises that nation takes note of comments and make adjustments where necessary
By Tasie Theodore
Notable envoy and former Minister of External Affairs in the Ibrahim Babangida presidency, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi has told Nigerians that the presence of, as well as activities of foreigh obcervers in the 2019 polls was not a problem.
In a statement issued to plead with Nigerians on the need to eschew violence in the forthcoming polls that opens on Saturday, the renowned diplomat stated that rather than disparage the observers, they should rather be embraced.
‘As someone who has led electoral observer teams to other countries for over a period of 40 years, I welcome and Nigeria should welcome the presence of the observer teams. They perform a useful role in elections all over the world.’
On the specific matter of the comments already being made by leading western nations and other foreign agencies on the imperative of free, fair and credible polling, the veteran diplomat, insists that even that should not raise any hairs.
‘The United States, the European Union, the International Criminal Court, in other words, the international community have put us on notice as to their expectations. It is in our own good to listen to them.’
The controversy over the activities of foreign observers and nations was stoked after a live television comment made by Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el Rufa’i that foreigners who intervene in Nigeria’s 2019 electoral process risked returning home in ‘bodybags.’
While the governor and the presidency have defended the remarks that it was made in the national interest, many Nigerians, including the opposition PDP have faulted the governor, saying that his statement was somewhat indicative of a deeper plot to restrict and hinder transparency in the entire electoral process.
Along this line, it will be recalled that scores of western electoral observers were denied participation rights in the recently conducted polls in Congo whose outcome is still being disputed by the presumptive winner of the poll, Mr Martin Fayulu.
Former US President Bill Clinton is expected to be in Nigeria on Wednesday as part of concerted global interest in helping to ensure hitch-free and transparent polling in the country.
Ellen Sirlief, former Liberian President and Head, ECOWAS Electoral Observation team