A civil society group, the Centre for Social Justice, Equity and Transparency (CESJET) has expressed concern over what it said is the continuous interference with Nigeria’s democracy by the European Union, the United States, and the British government.
The group while reacting to media reports that the foreign countries were mounting pressure on President Muhammadu Buhari not to seek re-election wondered at what point did it “become their right to ask President Buhari not to serve his own people”
Addressing journalists in Abuja, CSJET Executive Secretary, Comrade Ikpa Isaac said Nigeria is a sovereign nation and has the rights to choose it’s own leaders without foreign interference, adding that the Nigerian constitution allows qualified individuals to pursue public positions.
Isaac expressed concern that days after the publications were made in some national dailies, the governments of the countries mentioned are yet to publicly refute the story, stressing that their silence is a confirmation that indeed the story could be true.
He said, “The silence for us at CESJET equals acquiescence, one that confirms that they had contemplated or had actively plied pressure on President Muhammadu Buhari not to seek re-election. This would be the most irresponsible case of double standard ever knowing what the stance of these countries are when it comes to external interests attempting to influence the direction of elections in their territories.
“The United States is still frothing at the mouth each time the potential of Russia having meddled in the election that produced its President Donald Trump is discussed. The US has on the strength of a meddling it is yet to fully prove imposed series of sanctions against Russia while its nationals that were suspected to be linked to the alleged plots have been politically lynched.
“We therefore wonder at what point it became fashionable for the same US to become part of an axis of evil asking President Buhari not to seek re-election to serve Nigerians that are asking him to remain their leader.
“On a level as strident as the United States, the United Kingdom is still smarting from the outcome of its referendum that favoured exiting the European Union. Again, it blames Russia for meddling in the process to swing the outcome in favour of divorcing its European neighbours.”
He explained that CESJET has nothing against non-belligerent nations observe democratic activities of a country of interest within acceptable international terms.
He however said converting this otherwise good practice into a backdoor for interfering with and manipulating elections in Nigeria is unacceptable and would be rightly resisted same way the citizens of these perpetrating countries would have done if it were happening to them.
He said, “We will resist it because for another country to decide who can and who cannot run office in Nigeria is an assault on our democracy. At a time the entire world is working to improve the credibility elections as a democratic tool worldwide, plying pressure on a potential candidate not to stand for office is a devious form of manipulation that can be classified on the same level with electoral violence and vote buying. It is the kind of message the world should not catch any decent country sending across.
“We understand that President Buhari’s anti-corruption war has turned off the flow of illicit finance to the accused countries and that their high street stores have closed shops since their corrupt clientele from Nigeria no longer have the slush funds for patronage and keep the accounts in profitability.
“It is understandable that these countries are losing tax revenue because stolen Nigeria money is no longer available to buy overpriced luxury apartments, automobiles and private jets. The corruptly rich are no longer able to make their annual vacations and pilgrimages to these countries amongst other indulgences that stolen public funds were diverted to.
“But President Buhari should not blamed for this as he has not stopped hardworking people in the private sector from spending their hard earned cash wherever they want. There is therefore no basis for a desperation to get him out of the way to be converted into an altruistically seeming pressure not to seek re-election.”