Nigerians in Diaspora seek credible, peaceful elections

THE Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) says it is looking forward to credible and peaceful conduct of the general elections rescheduled for Saturday and March 9.

Some members of the organisation, led by the Chairman, NIDO Americas Board of Trustees, Mr Obed Monago, said this in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Wednesday.

They called on all stakeholders, especially the political actors, to put the nation’s interest above their personal ambitions and work towards strengthening the nation’s democracy.

Monago said about 45 NIDO members from various locations around the world were currently in the country as accredited international observers and voters in the elections.

He decried the blame game that followed the postponement of the elections, saying that focus should be on how to address the challenges that led to it before the new dates.

The nation is gradually recovering from the postponement announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) about five hours to the opening of polling stations on Saturday.

The announcement drew sharp criticisms from Nigerians with the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) trading blame.

“I was at the stakeholders’ conference convened by INEC on Saturday, and it was all about the blame game.

“Seventy-five per cent of presentations there were about blaming the commission, saying it should have done this and that, but all that is in the past.

“Why not focus on how we can use the one-week period to come up with contributions and suggestions on how to do it better?’’ Monago said.

Prof. Hauwa Ibrahim, the Assistant Secretary of NIDO, urged Nigerians to have confidence in INEC and come out on voting day to exercise their franchise.

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Ibrahim, a visiting lecturer at Harvard University, United States, called on Nigerians to contribute their quota towards making the country greater.

“Without fear of contradiction, I make bold to say that Nigeria is a great country. I have travelled to over 70 countries, and I tell you that there is no greater country than Nigeria.

“I just discovered that people are very excited about this country. Let us join them to be excited at any level we are.

“Actually, we don’t have all the information, we cannot claim we know everything, but people should know that their votes count, and they should please go out and exercise their franchise,“ he said.

Ibrahim also warned against the threats posed by fake news to the nation’s democracy and called on Nigerians to be cautious.

On his part, Mr Taofeeq Olatinwo said although they were in the country as observers, they were also Nigerians hoping that the country was able to conduct credible elections.

He said that the organisation had observed “ some form of stability in the nation’s polity since the return of democracy in 1999.

“We just hope that the maturity will keep increasing so that when we come back, we would be able to help to take this further.

“We believe the stability is something that will help us. So, this is what we are looking at, and that’s why we are here as observers to ensure that we are able to go through the credible elections.

“We have seen it work outside Nigeria, so it should work in Nigeria as well, and we should just keep improving on what we have on the ground,’’ he said.

The UNIDO members said their assessment of the electoral process would come in their observation report at the end of the elections.