Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, has urged the international community to respect the sovereignty of Nigeria and allow her solve internal challenges without interference.
Onyeama said this while addressing a cross section of the Heads of Diplomatic Missions and international election monitoring groups in Nigeria on the conduct of the 2019 General Elections.
The gathering, organised by the ministry in conjunction with the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), aims at engaging with friends and partners of Nigeria on the conduct of the re-scheduled elections.
Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, INEC Chairman, had on Saturday announced the postponement of the elections few hours before its commencement.
The Presidential and National Assembly as well as the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections were initially slated for Feb. 16 and March 2.
The international community, however called for calm and urged the electoral umpire to put everything in place so that the election could hold on the re-scheduled date while political parties and politicians had continued to react differently to the postponement.
Onyeama stressed that Nigeria welcomed partnership and support from the international community.
He, however, said that the country being a sovereign nation, would not allow herself to be dictated to since it would not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries.
“We welcome very much your engagement, we appreciate your support. We acknowledge how important your engagement for us in 2015 helped us to deliver probably one of the most free and credible elections we have had in this country for a very long time.
“However, we have cause to be concerned with the way the engagement has been communicated, because at the end of the day, we are a sovereign country.
“The line should not be crossed from exalting us and wanting this to succeed and really be a democratic process to dictating to us and getting to the nitty-gritty of how we run the country.
“We have heard all kinds of conspiracy theories, that is why we deem it necessary to hold this kind of interaction with you. I had cause to meet with some of you to discuss the general narrative.
“ As member of the diplomatic community and international election observers, we welcome very much, your engagement.
Onyeama said that the international community would do better if it remained impartial and did not give the impression that it had a preferred candidate in the election.
He expressed the disappointment of President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government on the inability of INEC to deliver on elections, after being given all the resources requested and three and half years of preparation.
He said that no excuses would be tolerated from INEC not to conduct the Saturday election.
“Mr. President and indeed all Nigerians will not accept any excuses for elections not to be held this Saturday. Nothing less will be acceptable to government, and I am sure, to Nigerians.
“We will not accept any excuses or any other reason, the election must be held on Saturday,” he said.
He, therefore, called on INEC to ensure that the rescheduled election unfailingly holds on Feb. 23.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Yakubu, said that the commission had put in place everything possible to ensure the elections hold on Saturday
Yakubu, who was represented by an INEC National Commissioner, Dr Mustapha Lecky, said that nothing would stop the election from being conducted on Feb 23.
Thehe U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington, commended the Federal Government and INEC for the process and efforts to ensure free, fair and credible polls in Nigeria.