The chairman of Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF), Yerima Shettima, has described the just concluded presidential election as the freest and fairest since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999.
Mr Shettima made the declaration in a statement issued in Lagos on Sunday while commending Mahmoud Yakubu, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), for the conduct of the February 25th presidential election.
The election produced Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as winner while Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) came second and third, respectively.
In the statement, AYCF praised INEC for doing its best given the circumstances under which the election was conducted, but lamented that “there are forces opposed to the commendable effort of INEC and we are aware there is a deliberate ploy to distract the electoral umpire.”
The organisation warned that it was prepared to resist the alleged forces seeking to undermine the current democratic process as had been upheld by INEC adding that those conspiring against INEC do not mean well for the nation.
“INEC has given the 2023 elections its best shot by training and retraining of election officials, using the BVAS successfully in 90% of cases. As with elections anywhere in the world, INEC couldn’t have done a perfect job because, in reality, they cannot be completely infallible
“We say no to the forces of destabilisation of Nigeria who have been calling for the resignation of INEC chairman, Professor Mahmoud Yakubu, without any cogent reason.
“For those who are crying wolf over claims of election rigging, they need to have a rethink because APC’s Bola Tinubu lost in his immediate constituency of Lagos and Labour Party won many areas. PDP’s Atiku Abubakar lost his immediate constituency of Adamawa. It is very clear that this is comparatively the freest and fairest election since 1999. It is pointless crying foul where there is none.
“We call on men and women of good conscience to support the efforts of INEC to bequeath a good electoral legacy on the country. It is obvious that the INEC officials made enormous sacrifices under the current economic and national security challenges to hold successful presidential and National Assembly elections,” the statement said.
AYCF said, as an organisation whose members sacrificed their mental and physical abilities to ensure today’s democracy, it must work to preserve peace in Nigeria and ensure INEC is allowed to deliver on its mandate without any hindrance.
“We reject any deliberate ploy to cause crisis in the name of unsubstantiated allegations of rigging.
“We urge the civil society to be careful about acting the script of candidates who have lost the just-concluded elections and are trying to engineer thuggery, killings and arson. We all have a duty as Nigerians to be patriotic enough to speak the truth and stand by peace, unity and national stability,” the statement added.
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