The Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) has asked former Tanzanian President and Head of the Commonwealth Observer Mission for the 2019 general elections, Dr. Jakaya Kikwete to resist any pressure from former President, Olusegun Obasanjo in carrying out their assignment while in Nigeria.
In a statement signed and issued in Abuja by the Chairman, Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary, Cassidy Madueke, the group stressed that its main concern was that the team leader is a well-known friend of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
It demanded fairness and openness from the team, saying “Many Nigerians are worried that the head of the Commonwealth observer group may be swayed by Obasanjo’s skewed pre-election position that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) does not have the integrity to conduct free, fair and credible elections.
“This concern, we know, is as a result of the long standing friendship between the two former Presidents which began long before Kikwete became the head of the Tanzania government in 2005. But we are encouraged by the values that the Commonwealth holds sacrosanct, and the fact that the head of the election observer team has a track record as a peace maker, especially in the Great Lakes region of East Africa.
“So we hope that Dr Kikwete would resist the pressure that will surely come from former President Obasanjo who believes that he has a divine role to determine the winner of the Presidential election.”
The group however assured the Commonwealth team and other observer missions of the readiness of the Buhari administration to ensure a favourable atmosphere for a credible general election.
“As someone who had previously been on the wrong end of shoddy electoral processes before his electoral victory in 2015, President Buhari has, on many occasions, given his word to the world about his readiness to ensure a credible election after benefitting from one.
“He has consequently, over the course of three and a half years, made sure that the election management body has everything it requires to conduct a very credible election. And like the 20-man Commonwealth observer team would found out when it visits INEC, the Commission has been operating without any form of interference from the President who is keen on ensuring that the elections are the most credible in the nation’s political history.
“He has also openly assured Nigerians that he has no interest in rigging the forthcoming elections, and would not allow anyone to rig. It is against this backdrop that we at BMO demand fairness and an open-mind from Kikwete and his team of election observers as they arrive Nigeria on February 8.”