The Buhari Campaign Organisation has lambasted Stuart Symington, the United States Ambassador to Nigeria and other foreign envoys of discrediting the country’s electoral process with their remarks.
In a statement issued by Festus Keyamo, spokesperson for the Buhari Campaign Organisation on Monday, the team accused Symington and other foreign ambassadors of implying that the All Progressives Congress (APC) plan to rig the 2019 presidential election in favour of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The campaign organisation also alleged that the implicit attacks on Nigeria by the U.S. Ambassador was a tacit approval of Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) by western powers.
Keyamo stated that the U.S. should also have beamed its searchlight on Atiku concerning the issue of electoral fraud, claiming that President Buhari has not been associated with such vice in his time in politics.
The statement read: “We take the view that the constant statements by Ambassador Symington and the other diplomats are implicit attacks against the government of Nigeria. These statements imply the Nigerian government is inclined to rig the election in favour of President Muhammadu Buhari. This is unfair and unacceptable to us. President Muhammadu Buhari has never been accused of electoral malpractice all his life.
“However, in contrast, former Vice-President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, publicly boasted a few months ago that he rigged the 2003 elections in the South-West states. Here, we have an open confession of blatant electoral malfeasance by the PDP candidate. But in all of these, there seem to be no concern by Ambassador Symington and other diplomats about this well-acknowledged proclivity of the main opposition.
“We expected that such open confession to rigging in the past would have drawn condemnation from the United States. Rather, what we witnessed recently was the ignoble act of giving such a self-confessed rigger with a decade-old indictment in America for corruption hanging over his head a special status to enter the US for a few days. Such is the double standard that America now displays for the whole world to see.”
Noting that it welcomed the interest of the foreign countries in the upcoming general elections, the campaign organisation, however, said it was “deeply concerned about many of the expressions” of Symington and other western diplomats in Nigeria about the electoral process.
“The continued warnings about ‘flawed elections’ is capable of casting an unwarranted cloud over the process. Instead of encouraging our country toward credible elections, such statements undermine public confidence. It would appear that these envoys seem to have discredited the election before it has even taken place,” the statement read.
The statement also accused Symington of being a novice in Nigerian politics, saying he lacked the understanding of the proper situation on the ground.
Keyamo stated that the U.S. Ambassador has a “great error” of judgement with his warnings towards the Federal Government and state institutions not to commit any illegal activity during the elections.
According to Keyamo, the Buhari Campaign Organisation believes in its principal’s ethos not to rig elections, adding that the APC presidential candidate will win a free and fair election unlike the PDP candidate, whom he said was depending on rigging the result.
The statement read: “An American ambassador has a great responsibility in representing the strongest economic and military power in the world. His comments carry weight because of the status of his nation. This means his comments should reflect a deep knowledge of the subject.
“Sadly, Ambassador Symington has not shown the deep knowledge of the Nigerian situation. The impression he creates by constantly harping on suspected government interference with the electoral process is that President Buhari cannot win without tipping the results. He seems to be saying that only a PDP victory will be evidence of a fair election.
“Again, he is in great error. From all of the information at our disposal, President Buhari can and should win a free and fair election.”
The campaign organisation regretted that Symington had apparently abandoned his ambassadorial role and interfered in the country’s electoral process by “substituting his subjective conclusions for the sovereign will of the Nigerian people.”
Keyamo noted that it was wrong for the U.S. to threaten to deal with persons who make certain comments, noting that it was an abuse of free speech, which was guaranteed by both countries’ constitution.
The statement warmed Symington and other western diplomats that Nigeria would not accept any sort of interference or meddling in its electoral process.